Salter Path Museum, Inc

History of Salter Path

Mail Boat 1927 Adienne Willis

Salter Path was a banks fishing village. Of course, development as a resort area has been encroaching on the old village for many years, but the salty ways are still in evidence --particularly along the soundside.

Nearby Emerald Isle was once envisioned as a resort comparable to Atlantic City, NJ. Efforts by the wealthy industrialist Henry K. Fort to have a bridge constructed on the western end of Bogue Banks failed, and his grand plans became another Depression casualty.

Soundside, Salter Path. This design style is known as a Harkers Island skiff.Because there were no roads or automobiles, residents had to take the mail boat to go to the doctor or run errands in Morehead City. During the 1950s NC58 was paved and a state-owned ferry began operation which led to this area becoming more developed.

Local historians say that settlers were established in Salter Path by the mid-1800s but there are no property deeds since they simply set up a homestead and worked the sea and land where they lived. As the local whaling industry slowly failed in the late 1800's, some moved their houses to Salter Path from Diamond City out on Shackleford Banks, either board-by-board or floating them across on boats. The exodus picked up speed after a devastating hurricane in 1899. One NC history book says "most of the folks on the other end of Shackleford Banks went down to Bogue Banks, to a place called Gillikin, now known as Salter Path."

Gillikin? Like many of the Outer Banks fishing villages there is some debate over how Salter Path got its name. The one heard most often is perhaps a bit too logical; "Over the years, where the fishermen went from their homes on the soundside to work in fish camps on the beach there was worn a permanent path called Salter Path." But others believe the village was named for the Salter families, Carteret County fishermen.

From the 1920s to 1950s, Bogue Banks' most prominent resident was Alice Hoffman, originally from New York. Hoffman lived on her estate in a large house facing Bogue Sound in what is now Pine Knoll Shores. Hoffman's niece was married to President Theodore Roosevelt's oldest son. Alice Hoffman died in 1953, leaving more than 2,000 acres to the descendants of Theodore Roosevelt. They gave the state of North Carolina 297 acres that became the Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area and now contains the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.