The following glossary of places, ships, and hotels include those frequented or used by Wilbur and Orville Wright and the reporters who covered their activities at Kitty Hawk, NC, during April and May 1908.  Wherever possible additional information is provided on other references to these places during the total of six visits the Wrights made to North Carolina for test flights in 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1908, and 1911.

Albemarle Sound:  First crossed by Wilbur Wright in the leaky Curlicue, owned by Israel Perry of Colington Island on 13 Sept 1900 and then crossed and re-crossed by both Wrights and all of their guests dozens of times between 1900 and 1911.  The Sound, named for Duke of Albemarle (one of the original proprietors of Carolina), is an estuary 50 miles long and 15 miles wide.  It is a non-tidal body of fresh water fed by the Chowan and Roanoke rivers and then drains into the Pamlico Sound through the narrow Roanoke and Croatan Sounds on either side of Roanoke Island.  From the time of English exploration and settlement on Roanoke Island into the 19th century, there were a number of ocean inlets into the Albemarle Sound area.  But as these inlets began closing Albemarle Sound became one of the largest fresh water bodies along coastal North America and attracted the vast number of birds observed by the Wrights.  The former inlets and their closings:  Musketo Inlet, 1670s; Currituck Inlet, 1731; Gunt Inlet, 1770s; Caffey’s Inlet, 1810; Roanoke Inlet, 1811; New Currituck Inlet, 1828. 

B. M. van Dusen (listed legally as B. M. Van Duzen), a gasoline “launch” of Capt. Franklin Harris Midgett:  It was built in Manteo in 1906, which remained its home and registered port.  Although used by the Wrights as passengers, its officially listed function was for freight.  Wilbur took it from Eliz. City to Kitty Hawk (9 April 1908); hired Midgett to bring lumber from Elizabeth City (13 April 1908), but then had to pay for a special trip of the vessel to Elizabeth City to get the lumber (17, 18 April 1908); Orville's glider delivered on the boat (13 Oct 1911).

Colington Island, closest village (2 miles) to Kill Devil Hills and the Wright camp:  residence of various individuals who visited the Wright camp or who assisted in delivering materials and other goods.  The island, easily visible from the crest of Big Kill Devil Hill, is 2.1 miles long and 2.5 miles wide and is on the sound side of the Outer Banks.  Named for Sir John Colleton to whom the island was granted in 1663, the island historically had a mixed agricultural and fishing subsistence.  It had a small harbor for shallow boats which was used occasionally to deliver guests or goods to the Wright camp.

Elizabeth City, N.C.:  town, population 6,000 in 1900, county seat of Pasquotank County, and largest town in the northeast region of North Carolina; closest rail terminal and port available to Wright brothers for food, lumber, hardware, and all other supplies including gasoline.  It was also the Wrights transfer point in traveling to Kitty Hawk and in sending their large wooden crates containing equipment, supplies, and partially assembled flyers.  Wilbur first visited (13 Sept 1900); as the main source for supplies (18 Oct 1900); as an exchange place for equipment and goods (9 July 1901); launched to Kitty Hawk from there (24 Sept 1903); depot fire (26 Sept 1903).  Named for Queen Elizabeth I of England, the town has perennially been the largest commercial, industrial, and transportation center in northeastern North Carolina.  During the Wright visits to Kitty Hawk, the town had the closest newspapers covering events on the Outer Banks.

Haymans, Hamans or Heymans, also Haman House or Hamans Bay, location of abandoned house near the Wrights camp, at West Hill on the sound side:  This property was owned at the time of the Wrights flying experiments by Captain M. D. Hayman of Wanchese, who had a long term dream of seeing a monument built at Big Kill Devil Hill.  The place was visited and sometimes used as a retreat or protective cover by the Wrights during storms (14 Sept 1902; 16 Oct 1902; the house torn down (27 Sept 1903); reporter Salley was "in the woods" there (11 May 1908); Wilbur flew over the place while reporters were observing there (13 May 1908).

Hattie Cruf [sic Creef], a 65 foot sailboat built in Manteo 1901 by George Washington Creef and captained by George Creef:  with a gasoline engine added in 1903, it made regular runs between Elizabeth City, Manteo, and Nags Head.  First listed as a freight vessel, by 1911 it was listed as a passenger vessel.  Wilbur took the boat from Manteo to Elizabeth City (18 May 1908).  Orville crossed from Manteo to Elizabeth City in 1911 on the craft with a group of reporters at the conclusion of the last Wright experiments at Kitty Hawk.

Kill Devil Hills, N. C.:  An unpopulated site midway between the towns of Kitty Hawk and Nags Head, NC, where the Wrights located their camps in 1901, 1902, 1903, 1908, and 1911; the site of all of their approximately 1200 glider flights in 1900-1903; their first successful powered flights of 1903 and numerous powered flights in 1908; and an unrecorded number of glider flights in 1911.  Part of the range of sand dunes extending from northeast of Kitty Hawk  to the area of Nags Head, the largest of these hills frequently known historically as Big Kill Devil Hill (approximately 100 feet in height).  This location was chosen by the Wrights as the most suitable spot in the area for both soaring flight and then powered flights.  Big Kill Devil Hill was surrounded by other hills (East Hill and West Hill), also used by the Wrights.  Subsequent to the Wrights’ early flights, the area was acquired and developed by the US government as the site for the impressive Wright Brothers National Memorial—located on Big Kill Devil Hill.  The area was subsequently populated and surrounded by a town of the same name.  A post office was opened at Kill Devil Hills in 1938 and the town was incorporated in 1953.

Kill Devil Hills Life Saving Station, Kill Devil Hill area, the outpost of the U. S. Life Saving Service closest to the Wrights brothers' camp from 1901 until 1911:  From this station came the volunteers who assisted the Wrights in lugging and launching their gliders and flyers.  A group of these surfmen also witnessed first hand the birth of flight from gliders in 1900 to powered flight in 1903 and 1908 and back to gliders in 1911.  The Wrights also went there for sociability and information (27 July 1901, 12 Oct 1902; 4 Oct 1903); pictures of the station and crew members framed by Lorin Wright (26 Sept 1903); W. S. Dough sailed Chanute to Manteo from there (12 Nov 1903); Orville got mail there (15 Nov 1903); Orville visited to make travel plans to take broken propeller shafts to Dayton (28 Nov 1903); life savers invited to observe the first powered flight attempt—Thomas Beacham, John T. Daniels, Willie S. Dough, Benny O'Neal, and Robert Wescott responded (14 Dec 1903); Wilbur lodged there until 1908 building was erected (10-24 April 1908); men there report information on the demise of the Wright camp from 1903 until 1908 (11 April 1908); Wilbur dropped by (14 April 1908); Wilbur returned there when ill (17 April 1908); Wilbur settled his bill for boarding and arranged for Captain Franklin Midgett to bring cylinder oil from Manteo (30 April 1908); Benny O'Neal and Willis Tillet assisted at Wright camp (6, 8 May 1908); crew informed reporters of the Wrights’ 1908 crash (18 May 1908).   

Kitty Hawk, N. C., village of 56 families and 258 residents in 1900 and nearest populated area to the Wright brothers' test sites; the only immediate source of quite limited goods, food, and services; it also served as the Wrights’ 1900 test site:  Orville described (14 Oct 1900); Orville revisited 1900 site (22 Oct 1911)

Kitty Hawk Life Saving Station, Kitty Hawk, one of the outposts of the U. S. Life Saving Service visited by the Wright brothers to secure information and to send telegrams at the adjacent US Weather Station to Norfolk for retransmission there by Western Union—including the famous 17 Dec 1903 telegram to their father informing him of their first successful powered flights:  mentioned and described (13 Sept 1900; 6 Oct 1902); Wilbur visited (15 Nov 1903); Wilbur & Orville went there to send telegram about first powered flights and to visit "the station men" (17 Dec 1903); Wilbur dropped by (14 April 1908).

Lou Willis, a sixty foot two masted schooner that belonged to Captain Franklin Harris Midgett of Kitty Hawk.  Built in Smyrna, NC, in 1876, its homeport and permanent documents were issued at Elizabeth City.  It was used regularly by the Wrights in 1902, 1903, and 1908, although in 1902 the Wrights shifted their cargo to a different vessel on their return to Elizabeth City when Captain Midgett refused to sail.  Difficulties with Midgett (8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20 April 1908); sails on the vessel lost (13 April 1908); vessel ran aground (17 April 1908).  See also entry for Captain Franklin Harris Midgett.

Manteo, NC, a village in 1900 of sixty families and perhaps 300 residents on the northern tip of Roanoke Island; a frequent transfer point for the Wrights, their visitors, and various goods through steamer service which was available between Elizabeth City and the village:  mentioned (21 Sept 1902); Wilbur and Orville visited (24 Sept 1903); Orville passed through (3 Dec 1903); a source for cylinder oil (30 April 1908); Weather Bureau operator contacted the place for information on the Wrights' activities (2 May 1908); lodging place for reporters covering the 1908 Wright tests (5-18 May 1908); Wilbur went to Manteo and stayed at the Tranquil House hotel where he found the names of reporters on the hotel registry (17 May 1908); O went to the Tranquil House at Manteo (27 Oct 1911).

Monticello Hotel, Norfolk, VA, one of the city’s grandest, opened 27 September 1898 and demolished 25 January 1976:  Wilbur stayed at the Monticello (7 Sept 1900; 18 May 1908).

Nags Head, NC, a fishing and beach resort for eastern North Carolina and tidewater Virginia from the 1830s forward; a village of perhaps fifteen families and sixty year-round residents in 1900, the seasonal population could grow by hundreds as people flocked to the village for recreational fishing, bathing, and socializing:  the village was a few miles south of the Wrights' encampment and test site at Kill Devil Hills, sometimes used by them for the arrival of guests:  mentioned (2 Sept 1902).  During the Wrights’ 1908 flying season, Nags Head was frequently mentioned in the local and national press as the closest known location of their historic flights.

Powell's Point, NC, southern most tip of mainland before crossing the Albemarle Sound to Kitty Hawk:  Wilbur on the van Dusen stopped there (9 April 1908).

Southern Hotel, Elizabeth City:  Wilbur stayed there (6-7 April 1908).

Tranquil House Hotel, Manteo:  Wilbur and Orville stayed there (24 Sept 1903); Wilbur stayed there (17 May 1908); Wilbur discovered that reporters were staying there as well (17 May 1908).  The hotel principally used by reporters and photojournalist James Hare assigned to cover and photograph the Wrights’ 1908 historic flights. 


Places at Kitty Hawk