The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, is located on Highway 12 in the village of Rodanthe. The original station was built in 1874. Later converted into a boathouse when the new station was constructed in 1911. Exhibits and beach apparatus drills are featured during the summer months.
"The Chicamacomico Lifesaving station was established in 1874, one of the first seven stations on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The buildings on site survive as one of the most complete U.S. Lifesaving Service/Coast Guard Station complexes on the Atlantic Coast.
A Brief History ...
The Board-And-Batten Station was converted to a boathouse when the new shingle style station and its outbuildings were erected in 1911. They remind us today of the daring rescues made off the treacherous shoals and surf of Hatteras Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
One such rescue was of the "Strathairly" in 1891. Surfmen from Chicamacomico pulled seven members from heavy seas overcoming dense fog, high winds, and tumultuous surf. In 1898 the surfmen rescued members of the schooner "Fesseden." A year later, with the Lyle gun and the breeches buoy mechanisms, they saved the entire crew of the "Mini Bergen."
In 1918, Captain John Allen Midgett led his men in Chicamacomico's most celebrated event: The "Mirlo" rescue. The surfmen, while endangering their own lives in the fire and turbulent seas, rescued 42 of the British tanker's crew. The British government awarded Gold Lifesaving medals to Captain Midgett and the surfmen. The U.S. Government presented "Grand Crosses of the American Cross of Honor." Only eleven of these have ever been awarded and six belong to the surfmen of Chicamacomico.
It has been more than forty years since the Coast Guard left its watch on the Atlantic waters from this outpost, but the historic deeds of the many brave surfmen, who continuously endangered their own lives to rescue foundering seagoers, live on in the minds and hearts of the survivors and the relatives of both rescuers and the rescued. Many of the recent generations of Outer Banks natives are descended from former surfmen, and many of them are from the Midgett family who brought international acclaim to the Chicamacomico activities under the leadership of Keeper John Allen. Their story must be preserved."