Category Archives: buildings

Chalk Up Another

After a few days of northerly gales, I got up this morning to hear about another oceanfront building succumbing to the perils of the sea. It was not unexpected. I wanted to have a look, and the area south of the Rodanthe pier was ground zero.

There was already a contingent on hand to see the spectacle. With visitors here, I’m sure most of them had never seen such a sight. Walking in I saw photographer friends, Don Bowers and Dan Pullen. Sauntering around various vantage points, I settled in on a wind-protected elevated perch where Don and Dan joined me. They were shooting up a storm.

Over the years I’ve lost count how many buildings I’ve seen destroyed. I’d venture that it approaches 50. In 2008 I watched one on Sea Haven Street actually buckle and go down.

Today after a 2 hour wait I got to witness another one in the process. It was leaning eastward on piles high over the beach as waves plowed beneath it.

 After an hour we heard a little snap. Fifteen minutes later another cracking sound. It was then I knew it was going to sea. Five minutes later we heard another crunch. A minute passed and the creaking picked up into a crash. Suddenly before our eyes, the foundation gave way and lowered the structure on to the incoming waves. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch  getting splashed with water and melting away.

In a matter of seconds, it had collapsed…

At first it floated around, teetering in the surf.

As water poured in, it began breaking apart, expelling contents.

Dan got up-close and personal as a wall of debris washed toward him.

In less than 5 minutes, you’d never know it was a two story house.

As man builds so close to the sea, the messy spectacle continues!

Rodanthe 1975

I spend lots of time looking through old images. They bring back bygone memories. It’s taught me that a photograph taken today, later becomes a document of history. Interesting old photos appreciate with time because they can never be taken again. In the Summer of 1975, something possessed me to shoot a sign directing folks to the booming pier complex at Rodanthe. Nearly 50 years later, I realize how my hometown has changed.

All the buildings in the background are gone, washed away or relocated. The open field of sand, grasses and wildflowers is now covered with McMansions. The sign indicates that Elvin Hooper had caught his world record channel bass less than 2 years prior.

How I miss those days!

 

Avon Harbor

Local commercial fishing operations on Hatteras have always fascinated me. It’s the old school work ethic of harvesting from the sea that draws me in. Working on the water has been a cultural mainstay here for generations.

In 1996 I bought a Pentax medium format camera system. Using black and white or color negative film, the results surpassed 35mm work in the quality and sharpness of my darkroom prints.

That same year, I shot Avon Harbor when it still had a working waterfront.

Today most of that has nearly all disappeared.

Coming Soon

In building a series of bridges on Hatteras Island, NCDOT will tentatively open the newest one in March. Known as the Jug Handle, it replaces a roadway that, over the years, has routinely been washed out by high seas.

Last August I was fortunate to be given an after-hours tour of the impressively engineered site. 

The north and south terminus construction had yet to be connected midway.

High up on a superstructure, I admired the curvature toward the northern terminus on Pea Island.

Looking south, with Rodanthe as a backdrop, the now-gone trestles and infrastructure were still in place. Possibly opening to foot traffic in March, I hope to be walking the 2 ½ mile span as I did at the new Basnight Bridge in 2019.

With a tourism based economy, access to the islands is key. And as roadways continue to be compromised, this bridge won’t be the last.

Jug Handle Bridge

For a couple years I’ve been driving past the construction site of Hatteras Island’s newest bridge. Called the Jug Handle because of its shape, it bypasses a section of highway 12 that’s been constantly washed out by the ocean. Like most bridges, construction began from two terminal locations, to ultimately meet in the middle. For me, it’s a chance to shoot some interesting pictures.

Ten days ago as the north terminus was nearing its south counterpart, I took a photo from the dunes across the highway.

A week later I shot a similar photograph from a closer vantage point along the sound side shoreline.

The cranes are enormous.

Water depth along the route is only a few feet deep, too shallow to work from a barge, so a trestle system was built along each side to accommodate machinery. This is the south end working its way northward.

Giant pilings are delivered on the north end where workers bridle them to a crane for lifting.

On the lower end, the 150 foot pile is secured in a pivotal yoke as it’s lifted.

It is transferred to a towering frame where it’s driven precisely into the sandy bottom.

A pile driver is placed on top to pound it the desired depth.

It looked like each impact drove the piling several feet. The two bridge ends will soon be connected. The 2.4 mile roadway is scheduled for opening early 2022.