Discovering the Ocean Highway in North Carolina
An All Things NC! Photo Essay

1953 Ocean Highway Tourism Map (Courtesy of 
Chris Curley)
Formed as an opportunity to promote tourism of the various beaches up and down the Atlantic Coast, the Ocean Highway has longed survived the 'Interstate Era' and in many states the highways and byways of coastal routes from New York to Florida still carry the name.  This essay will focus on the route in the Tar Heel State from Elizabeth City to New Bern and down to Shalotte.  It will cover the various towns, people and history that can be found along the Ocean Highway, otherwise known as US Highway 17.

The twenty-first century is already seeing major changes to the Ocean Highway.  Bypasses in New Bern and Elizabeth City are open.  Plans for bypasses of Wilmington and Jacksonville are either under construction or being planned.  The purpose of the route has progressively from a slow coastal tourism highway to a high speed through route along the Atlantic Coast.  This page and the pages that follow will allow you to see both the old and the new at the same time, something you can't do by car.

Travel the Ocean Highway

Elizabeth City
A historic inlet town and her three routes of the Ocean Highway

The first to be named after George Washington and a great waterfront. 

The Ocean Highway may have been a successor of the old South Atlantic Ocean Highway.  A 1926 Rand McNally Junior Road Map of North Carolina (below right) shows the South Atlantic Ocean Route.
An interesting note about the 1926 Routing of the South Atlantic Ocean Highway is that it seems to have a split route.  The modern Ocean Highway and US 17 runs along the New Bern alignment (right).
(1926 RM Image, Courtesy RV Droz)

Currently, my research is in the preliminary stages.  However, this project cannot be a success without the enthusiasm of readers like yourself.  If you have stories or photos or links that you would like to be included in this essay, please e-mail me

Site Navigation & Links:
  • Return To All Things NC! Index
  • US 17 @ Annex ---Mike Roberson
  • Dismal Swamp Canal Visitors Center ---Located on US 17 South in Camden County
  • Traveling US Highway 17 ---Eric Hause
  • US 17, The Ocean Hiway ---Unknown
  • South Atlantic Coastal Highway (Florida) ---R.V. Droz



    Page Created: May 20, 2002
    Last Updated: November 3, 2007

    © 2002-07 Adam Prince