Outer Banks Communities: Frisco

laughing gulls
Laughing gulls

Hatteras Island consists of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and seven unincorporated villages. Inhabited by Croatan Indians centuries before the English settled at Roanoke Island, many of the villages on the Outer Banks had names derived from the Croatan language. When the U. S. Postal Service established offices on the island, many of the names were changed, ostensibly because the Croatan names were too long and too difficult to spell.

The village of Frisco, however, doesn't quite follow that trend. The original name for Frisco was Trent or Trent Woods. The most likely explanation for the name change for Frisco is the existence of another town in North Carolina named Trent. When the United States Postal Service (USPS) brought service to remote areas like Hatteras Island, it often discovered that communities had chosen the same or similar names. To prevent confusion, the post office then chose a new name. That is probably what happened with Frisco when the post office opened in 1898, although currently there is no Trent, North Carolina registered with the USPS.

A small airport is located in Frisco and named for a famous American General. General Billy Mitchell was an Army Air Service officer known as the father of the U. S. Air Force. On September 5, 1923, General Mitchell used the local airfield to demonstrate his expertise by flying bombing raids on battleships off the Outer Banks coast. This exhibition was a major factor in establishing the modern U. S. Air Force. Today the Billy Mitchell Airport is run by the National Park Service and operates one runway for public use.

Frisco's other claim to fame is its connection to Native American lore. The sound side of the village is heavily wooded and was the location on Hatteras Island where the Croatan Indians first settled. Artifacts from this tribe and other Native Americans have been found in and around this village. To preserve the Native American artifacts, culture, and art, Joyce and Carl Bornfriend founded The Frisco Native American Museum in 1987. The center grew, adding relics and stories of the local Native American tribes, and annexed the Natural History Center in 1995.

Today, the Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center is known worldwide for its exhibits. A new find was recently discovered near the museum, and the ancient Indian village is currently being excavated.

Frisco is a small village, boasting fewer than 1,000 full-time residents, and known for its pristine beaches. Tourists come to Frisco to get away from it all. The village doesn't have any hotels or motels, but there are cottages to rent. For those who really want to get back to nature, Frisco is also the site for one of the four National Park Service operated campgrounds on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Like much of Hatteras Island, the area is a popular spot for fishing, and water sports. Hiking the nature trails is also a popular past time. A part of Buxton Woods runs through Frisco bringing with it the beauty and the wildlife of the maritime forest.

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