Oregon Inlet is a dynamic body of water that flows between the northern Outer Banks and Hatteras Island. It was created during a fierce hurricane in 1846 that also reopened Hatteras Inlet, and is named for the first vessel to pass through it, the side-wheel steamer Oregon.
Charter fishing fleet coming through Oregon Inlet. Bonner Bridge is in the background.
Oregon Inlet is the northern-most inlet in North Carolina and is an important waterway for the Outer Banks' famed charter fishing fleets, commercial fishing vessels and recreational boaters.
The inlet is spanned by the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which opened in 1963 and was named in honor of a local Congressman from Washington, N.C. Prior to that, Toby Tillett operated a barge ferry service to take cars and passengers back and forth.
Inlets tend to migrate to the south and Oregon Inlet is no exception. Since its creation, it has moved some two miles, and greatly changed in appearance. In 1990 a terminal groin was built to halt the migration of the southern portion of the inlet and to secure the southern terminus of the Bonner Bridge. A dredge maintains the inlet's channel, which is always shoaling with the ever-moving sand created by the outflow.
On the north end of Oregon Inlet is the Oregon Inlet Coast Guard Station; Oregon Inlet Campground, maintained by the National Park Service; and the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, where charter boats take anglers on off-shore and in-shore fishing trips. At the south end of the inlet is an ample parking area that is popular with fishermen. You can also catch a glimpse of old Oregon Inlet Coast Guard Station, which is now abandoned.
The old Oregon Inlet Coast Guard Station, now abandoned
Outer Bankers and the world realized the fragility of the barrier islands and the bridges that connect them in 1990 when a barge broke loose from its mooring and knocked out a section of the Bonner Bridge severing the vital link to Hatteras Island for months.