The Outer Banks is a rugged beach with a rich history and it is an area that is very vulnerable to hurricanes and other storms. Each of my novels includes at least one storm and sometimes I include more than one. Each of the storms in my stories actually happened and real details are included in my novel. Here is a bit of background about the area and how the Cape Hatteras National Seashore came about.

Anyone who has read much non-fiction or history about the Outer Banks of North Carolina should be familiar with David Stick. He has written numerous books about the region. These books tell us why this stretch of the eastern seaboard is called the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. I highly recommend his books to people who want to learn more about the history of this area.

David Stick’s father Frank, moved to the Outer Banks in 1929 and by the 1930’s he knew Dare County was on the brink of bankruptcy. He wasn’t the kind of man to stand back and watch the area go belly up. He searched for a way to regenerate the Outer Banks and a way to protect and preserve the area.

One of the biggest problems on the Outer Banks was transportation and the difficulty in getting from one area to another. Better roads and more bridges were needed. Travelers were met by sandy paths which led in all directions and many went in circles. Many areas along the lower Outer Banks were isolated from the upper Outer Banks and the mainland. Sporadic and slow ferry service only transported a limited number of people per day.

The barrier islands presented various difficulties. These flat and low-lying sandy islands had no protection from the rough surf that eroded the sand and would wash out any new roads. Over the next few years, several toll bridges were built to provide additional access to the area. However, it was still difficult to reach Hatteras, Buxton and Ocracoke.

In 1933, Frank Stick unveiled his plan. Cape Hatteras would be the focal point of a National Seashore that would extend over 100 miles. It would begin just south of the Virginia state line and extend past Cape Lookout, NC. Several wildlife refuges were located throughout the area.

The first paved highway would extend the full-length of the Seashore and bridges would link the islands for tourists to experience everything the area had to offer. Large sand dunes could protect a paved road. Bridges would provide a better way to link the islands. The plan offered a chance to increase tourism and provide thousands of jobs. One of the first priorities was to build 115 miles of sand dunes to protect the islands and future roads. When the dune line was complete, they built paved roads.

During this time, the United States was experiencing a major economic depression. Untold numbers of people were unemployed in 1932. The people of the United States were desperate for some relief and they needed to find work. New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt planned to put the masses of unemployed people to work. Thousands of unemployed young men joined the peacetime army to fight the destruction of our natural treasures. 3,000,000 men worked on the projects.

This story focuses on one project: the creation of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. Before the project could be completed, World War II broke out in Europe. One of the many projects the Corp abandoned was the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Lilah and the Locket starts as the government workers return to complete the project in the 1950’s. A human bone was found around in a sand dune around that time…

If you enjoy a rugged beach and a mystery set along the shore, this story is for you. It’s a cozy mystery and many people have told me that it’s a great beach read. Whether you can get to the beach or not, I’ll share the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras with you – the gulls are waiting to welcome you.

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PS – There will be a sequel to this book and the main characters will return and there is a new character on the way. The Ash Wednesday storm hits the Outer Banks in the early 1960’s and the character’s live will be impacted by the storm and other events that hit too close to home.

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Nikki Leigh – Fiction and Promotional Author

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