The Beaufort News - September 12, 1940

Covering the Waterfront 
by Aycock Brown
(photographs added)

A snip of this article
If Dick Dickinson could drive his father’s big Buick over the new road to Salter Path, I saw no reason why I could not drive my Ford (mine except the share Morris Plan has in it) over the same route. A trip to Salter Path though, is something one plans for weeks before actually trying it, or such was my case. Anyway, armed with my camera and other paraphernalia for making pictures, I started out last Friday afternoon for one of North Carolina’s most picturesque fishing communities—and incidentally, one of the nearest places of isolation to any paved road in the state. Originally I had planned to take a model to use in the photographs that I might take, but before I had gone two miles westward on the WPA built route, I was mighty glad that I was accompanied by William Hatsell and a hitch-hiker I had picked up in Morehead City, instead.

George Smith, the mail carrier, had told me that the road was navigable if I would
remember to shift gears quickly and take the sandiest portions of the route in second gear. I forgot to do that though, on the first mile after leaving the pavement of the West Drive on Atlantic Beach. A truck with a trailer loaded with lumber had started toward Salter Path early Friday morning, gotten as far as the woods, and after getting stuck three or four times, unloaded and started back towards the paved road. At 3 o’clock, the truck was stuck again and as there was nothing I could do except offer help and sympathy, I cut out of the rut and passed—only to find my own rear wheels spinning a hundred feet westward. 

That was when I was glad that I had left the beauties (models) at home and brought along the hitch-hiker and William Hatsell. A bit of shoving on their part soon had my Ford underway again and rather than face the possibility of getting stuck again I stepped on the gas and got far ahead of my two companions before reaching hard ground and coming to a stop. Hatsell and the hitch-hiker coming down the road a quarter of a mile away provided my first picture.

Photo courtesy Pine Knoll Shores History
The last time I had traveled the route, I was accompanied by a couple of models. It was early in the summer and I was looking for a place where the natural surroundings would suggest Tahiti or the South Seas. One of the models was wearing a sarong. On that voyage through the dunes, I got as far as the Alice Hoffman Estate, took one looks at the sandy stretch up ahead and decided that I had better go no further. The pictures were made over on the beach nearby. I would have liked to have visited Mrs. Hoffman at her place, but everyone had told me that she did not like visitors, and the padlocked gate at the entrance to her Riviera-like property plainly suggested that she was not expecting callers—and especially someone she did not even know.
Photo courtesy Down East Tour
The sandy spot near the Hoffman Estate entrance has been improved considerably and on Friday we passed there safely. About two miles up the road we met another car coming eastward, and that is another drawback of the trip. The WPA-road’s right-of-way has not been widened along most of the route, so the road is definitely one-way. After a bit of maneuvering, however, we passed and about one mile further another car approached. It was Capt. Harvey Willis, postmaster at Salter Pat and the one resident of the community who had told me enough stories since I have known him to fill a volume. He gave me further notice about how to drive the route and also said that he had come all the way from the village without changing gears. That was encouraging, but I continued shifting when the quick-sand appeared in the ruts up ahead. One of the interesting things to the outsider going along the route will be the sign along the route will be the sign nailed to a tree about six miles west of Atlantic Beach. It reads like this:

A path has been made from the sign to the wreck of the old British blockade runner in the surf near the ocean beach. That old blockader went in the breakers during the Civil War. There is a story about how she had run out of fuel and in attempts to keep steam up, tried burning bacon, which was part of the supplies that were aboard.

First store you reach after arriving at Salter Path is like any of dozens of service stations in
the county. There is a nickelodeon (which is out of order) and a pool table there too, gasoline pumps on the outside and a fine stock of merchandise on the inside. It is not what one would expect to find at Salter Path. There is another store down on the sound shore that is much cleaner than the average rural establishment of its kind and with a good stock of goods too. 

The church is one of the most photogenic
Photo courtesy Pine Knoll Shores History
sites in the village—especially if you will find a spot where it can be framed through a foreground of picturesque oaks. Capt. Willis’ daughter is the assistant at the post office which is located in their residence, the largest and best house in the community. She very obligingly posed for a picture. I asked her if the census taker had been to Salter Path and what the population of the community was. She told me that no census taker had been there to her knowledge and that the population was about 250 persons.

From the sound shore near the huge pile of oyster shells you can look diagonally across
Bogue Sound and see Edgewater Club loom up in the distance. A few weeks ago we carried a story in the Beaufort News about the number of adults working on WPA. Today the project is temporarily stopped, or at least there was no one working on the road last Friday. Most all of the men seemed were in the fishery camps along the ocean beach. So far fishing conditions have not been very favorable, but the Salter Pathers were hopeful that following a hard southwester, a shift would come, a mullet shift. One of the fishing crews on the beach were hopeful that they would make another 44,000 pound catch of fish—like they did last year. I hope they have such luck too, because they really work hard for their living and deserve the break.

Salter Path is the only community west of Atlantic Beach on Bogue Banks today. The residents have been living there for about 30 years. Previously they lived, or most of them die in another community about two miles west. That was Rice Path. The shifting sands almost engulfed the Rice Pathers, so they came further east to settle. There are no cemeteries in Salter Path. The families bury their dead at Gales Creek, across the sound on the mainland. Years ago there was another community—a church and a cemetery at Bell Cove, about seven miles west of the present village. Some day I plan to visit that former community. We didn’t have time last Friday. Bell Cove today has been shortened to Bellco’ and it is the site of one of the important fisheries on Bogue Banks. Henry K. Fort of Philadelphia owns considerable property on Bogue Banks, including Bellco’. For the privilege of fishing there the residents pay an annual rental, one of the residents of Salter Path told me. Another resident whom I talked with agreed that a proper description of Salter Path’s locality could go like this: “A community on Bogue Banks, about 10 miles west of Atlantic Beach, bounded on the north by Bogue Sound, the south by Atlantic Ocean, the east by Alice Hoffman estate and west by Henry K. Fort’s property.”

Last Friday we returned the beach way and found it an interesting drive—but make sure the tide is low if you attempt it. Just to assure myself that I could go to and from Salter Path safely on two occasions during the same week, I made another trip there last Sunday, westward via the beach and the return through the new road. . . Esther, Hattie and Brantley accompanied me. They found the trip most interesting, a trifle hazardous, and quite bumpy.

New Roadway from Hoffman Estate to Nearby Ocean Surf
    A new driveway has been constructed from the Hoffman Estate on Bogue Banks to the ocean surf. The entrance, adjacent to the State sponsored road leading from Atlantic Beach to Salter Path, is marked with two recently erected concrete posts and it is assumed that a gate will be placed there. No comment could be obtained from any resident of Salter Path about the driveway, but it was hinted that it would be for the exclusive use of the owner of the property and her guests. A ramp has been constructed on the ocean side to provide a safe passage for automobiles or other conveyances in getting from the beach into the forest covered dunes.