Kitty Hawk is historically well known as being the location of the first successfully flown, powered aircraft which was manned by Orville and Wilbur Wright. However, this information is incorrect! According to the staff at the Wright Brothers Memorial, the flight took place in nearby Kill Devil Hills. After the successful flight, the Wright brothers walked to the telegraph office to let their father know of the successful flight, and the telegraph office was located in ... you guessed it, Kitty Hawk!
Kitty Hawk is special in it's own 'wright'. Located in the northern Outer Banks, the beaches here are among the widest of the Outer Banks. The town has several municiple parks and miles of multi-use paths for walking biking as well as public beach access.
The origin of the name Kitty Hawk is still a matter of local debate. Most people agree that it is a Native American name for this area. The word originally appeared on English settlers' maps as "Chickehawk" or "Chickahawk" in the early 1700's. By the late 1700's, local residents spelled the name as we do today, with old land deeds referring to settlements as "Kittyhuk," "Kittyhark," KittyHawk," and "Kitty Hawk."
Offering a relaxing atmosphere, the Town of Kitty Hawk is a thriving village generations old as well as a newer beach community of residential cottages. Kitty Hawk Woods is a maritime forest. The Woods feature a wide variety of plant and animal life.
The perfect place for a daytrip, The Kitty Hawk Woods is located on the Outer Banks, in the center of the town of Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk Woods is 1877.2 acres of maritime deciduous swamp, marsh and forest. The town of Kitty Hawk owns 461.6 acres.
Storms washed across the Currituck banks creating several inlets. This allowed the salty ocean water and the fresh water of the sound to exchange water during tides. When the last of these inlets closed in 1928, the salinity in Currituck Sound became fresh brackish water. These estuaries are now primary nursery areas for fish. A quarter of a mile from the ocean is the eastern edge of the forest. Parallel to the coast is a dune system that protects the area from wind shear and salt spray. The forest itself is located on a series of low ridges and valleys of moist land.
A great variety of wildlife is found in this maritime forest. Where the land is of higher elevation you can find fox, raccoon and deer. The soft, wet marsh areas house river otter, nutria, muskrat and many reptiles and amphibians. The woods are home to woodpeckers, warblers, wrens, hawks and other songbirds. Wood ducks inhabit the deeper swales and geese, egrets, herons, swans, ducks and rails may be found in the marsh. Among the rare plants found on this coastal reserve are wooly beach heather and southern twayblade. The hop hornbeam, rare on the Outer Banks, is only found in Kitty Hawk and Nags Head Woods.
Reserve information and image courtesy of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve.