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Photo: NC 12 ending (Alex Nitzman)
|N.C. 12 125 road miles|
|The Road:||Begins at US 70 near Sea Level (Carteret County) and ends at the village of Corolla (Dare County)||Towns and Attractions:||Carteret Co: Cedar Island Nat'l Wildlife Refuge
Hyde Co: Ocracoke
Dare Co: Cape Hatteras, NC Outer Banks, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Duck, Corolla
NC 12 was born as early as late 1962 with the completion of the Bonner Bridge. However, NC 12 does not appear on the 1963 Official. The 1964 or 1965 Official first shows it, running from US 158 Business Whalebone south to Hatteras, then a ferry across Hatteras Inlet, then west to the village of Ocracoke. This is was new primary routing and the 2nd NC 12.
In 1976, NC 12 was extended across the sound to the mainland to connect with US 70. The Cedar Island side had a road for a number of years before it became NC 12.
Between 1986-88, NC 12 was extended north along US 158 Business and then as new primary routing up to Corolla.
The first NC 12 was an original state highway. It initially began at NC 10-11 (today's US 70-258 Bus, NC 11-55) Kinston, running to Snow Hill via Hookerton, Farmville, Tarboro, Scotland Neck via Speed and Hobgood; then northwest to end at NC 40 (current US 301) near Halifax.
In 1927, NC 12 was extended through Murfreesboro, then north to the Virginia Line (becoming VA 108), replacing NC 485.
Also in 1927, US 117 was added to the northern few miles of NC 12.
NC 12 connects the villages of the Outer Banks to one another. In some places the strip of land is very narrow -- NC 12 is susceptible to overwash of waves and sands during storms. The Bonner Bridge is in the process of being replaced by a new, more hurricane-resistant structure.
The Bonner Bridge did not introduce the Outer Banks to automobiles. Official maps from at least 1938-46 had a statement regarding travel on the Outer Banks -
"The Outer Banks" from a point opposite Roanoake Island to Ocracoke is traversed by a sandy trail over which an automobile can be driven with partially deflated tires. However, unless one is familiar with this mode of travel, local guide service is recommended.
The 1930 Dare County Map showed no roads south of Whalebone on the Outer Banks and official maps started showing ferries heading south from Whalebone towards Hatteras in 1932 or 1933.
I have a commercial map from the 1950s that shows a proposed extension of a road from Corrolla all the way up to the Sandbridge Beach area in Virginia. I don't recall any official NC or Virginia maps showing this. To do this today would be essentially impossible as there is a Virginia State Park and a National Wildlife Refuge present.
A new Currituck Sound crossing near the north end of NC 12 is in the planning stages. It is unclear whether this would be part of NC 12, NC 136 or a new number entirely. This bridge is under consideration for one of the North Carolina Toll Authority projects.