Friday, June 20, 2014

South Nags Head - the Condemned Beach Houses that Never Collapse

Dear Readers, some of you may remember my previous articles about the elevated cottages at East Seagull Drive in South Nags Head, North Carolina. They were condemned when they were in danger of collapsing into the Atlantic Ocean. Well, to confound the skeptics, they are still standing as a testament to convoluted U.S. real estate laws and property rights, and are serving as a rather macabre tourist attraction.
An odd feature: one of the houses has been reinforced with secondary new pilings, and there is a real estate sign underneath. Have the houses been un-condemned?
The northernmost house in the group is leaning rather ominously. Is this one for sale, too?

Let's move to  a more cheerful topic: one of the largest sand dunes on the east coast. This is Jockey's Ridge State Park. The high, unvegetated area of Jockey's Ridge is known as a medano—a massive, asymmetrical, shifting hill of sand lacking vegetation. (El M├ędano, in Spanish, is "the sand dune," as well as the name of a town on Tenerife.) According to the state park web page, "Jockey's Ridge is the tallest active sand dune system in the Eastern United States, and the most striking of the remaining dunes on the Outer Banks. Shifting winds are constantly reshaping the dunes. Because the Ridge is always changing, it is often referred to as "The Living Dune.""
It is really interesting to walk to the top and see the Atlantic ocean to the east and Albemarle Sound to the west. You can pretend for a few minutes that you are doing the Lawrence of Arabia march through the desert, except there are no camels.
When it rains, a sizable pond forms in a hollow to the east of the main part of the dune, demonstrating that barrier islands can have a high ground-water table if there is sufficient regular rainfall.
A popular activity is to slide/jump down the steep east side, sort of like running down a snow field. Well worth a visit!

Click the links for the 2010 article on the condemned houses. The 2012 article described the houses and the beach nourishment project.

Photographs taken with Fujifilm X-E1 and Panasonic G3 digital cameras.


  1. Do you have any updates on the houses after the latest hurricane?

    1. I was there in mid July. All of the homes are still standing. Water comes under most of them at high tide. There is a lot of construction fixing up some of the houses. So far, 3 houses are being fixed up. One of them is listed on I hope this helped. I really want updates too.

  2. Sorry, no update. The photographs above are from mid-June, 2014. Thanks for writing.

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