History of the Outer Banks and the First Flight!
Planning a vacation in the Outer Banks? If your ideal vacation involves soaking up some rich history as well as the sun, consider staying in one of our gorgeous Kill Devil Hills rentals. Just minutes away from the Wright Brother Memorial, you can spend your morning relaxing on the beach with your toes in the sand, and then spend an afternoon delving into the fascinating history of the town.
Kill Devil Hills is the oldest town of the Outer Banks region. The town is named after the 90 foot dune, Big Kill Devil Hill, but there are numerous stories of how that mountain
of sand got its name. Some believe that it comes from a brand of rum called “Kill Devil,” which had been washed ashore during the colonial times. Another story gives credit to the pirates who brewed their own moonshine in the area which they claimed was “strong enough to kill the devil.” A third story blames the rum that had been washed ashore from a shipwreck. Locals drank such a large amount of the powerful stuff that they said it was enough to “kill the devil.”
While the legends and stories of pirates are all in good fun, it is the remarkable story of the first flight that is most noteworthy about the town of Kill Devil Hills, although Kitty Hawk usually gets the credit. On December 17, 1903, above the rolling hills of sand belonging to Kill Devil Hills, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first heavier-than-air powered flight. This 12 second, 120-feet flight then launched the Age of Aviation. The brothers made four successful flights at the base of the big hill that is now part of the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
Want to learn more? From any of the Kill Devil Hills rentals, take a short drive to the Visitor Center at milepost 8, where history buffs can feast their eyes on a full-scale reproduction of the Wright 1903 Powered Flyer as well take a look at some interpretive presentations. In the pavilion, visitors can check out a replica of the 1902 Wright Glider as well as other special exhibits. Outside of the center, feel as if you are present during those famous 12 seconds as you make out all the historical markers of each attempted powered flight. Then take a look at the replica camp buildings before you snap a few photographs on top Big Kill Devil Hill, where a 60-foot granite monument honoring the Wright brothers stands tall.
Hungry for more Kill Devil Hills history? Before Orville and Wilbur Wright ever happened upon those fateful dunes, the town boasted a Life Saving Station that had been built in 1878. It was one of 11 stations built along the Outer Banks and was constructed for trained rescue workers. These “surfmen” were there to help with any shipwrecks or maritime disasters. They rescued hapless shipwrecked victims in lifeboats that were brought back to land by the surf.
Other than being a town of full of history, Kill Devil Hills is centrally located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. With beach access only a short walk away, local eateries right down the street, activities and rentals available nearby and unique shops littered up and down the main road, Kill Devil Hills rentals have something to please everyone, be it the passionate shopper or the easy going beach-goer, the fun-loving adventurer or the trivia hungry history buff.