Diamond City, NC History

Diamond Shoals

Sally G. Moore, Cape Lookout

Reprinted from State Magazine

During the past seven years that we have been on Cape Lookout, we have talked with quite a few of the older people on Harkers Island. Most all refer to the Cape Lookout Shoals as the Diamond Shoals, a name applied today to the shoals off Cape Hatteras. When questioned as to why they call Lookout shoals, “The Diamond Shoals,” all stated that their fathers and grandfathers had always called our shoals, “The Diamond Shoals, and in fact, they ARE the Diamond Shoals.”

These people are descendants of the former residents of Diamond City on Shackleford Banks.

In recent years the story has been going around that Cape Lookout Lighthouse was painted in the diamond pattern through an error, that the diamond pattern should be on Hatteras Lighthouse. The story also goes that Diamond City received its name from the diamonds on our present lighthouse, which was erected in 1859.

Records show that the previous lighthouse, which was put into service sometime in 1812, was painted in red and white stripes horizontally.

Samuel Chadwick came to Carteret County in 1725 from Falmouth, Massachusetts, and started the whaling industry in the county, therefore he was the indirect founder of Diamond City, a whaling community on Shackleford Banks. If Diamond City was started shortly after 1725 and the diamonds were not painted on our present lighthouse until 1859, then we have a span of approximately 134 years that we had a rather large community (approximately 500 people) without a name. This does not seem possible, when all other sizable communities were named.

Diamond City was in its declining years during the latter part of the 1800s, due to hurricanes. People were moving away, taking their hours with them. The very last house was moved from Diamond City in 1909. Are we supposed to believe that these people waited approximately 134 years and then in the last 50 years, they decided to name their community?

Now, let’s consider the fact that these early whaling people derived their living out, on and around Cape Lookout Shoals, which their descendants, even today call “The Diamond Shoals,” a name that has come down to them from their forefathers. I seems logical to assume that Diamond City received its name from “The Diamond Shoals.”

Assuming Diamond City did receive its name shortly after it was founded (approximately 1725), then we must assume that our ancestors called these shoals “The Diamond Shoals” and that the name came from their forefathers. Early records show that up until 1795 the shoals at Cape Hatteras were know as the Cape Hatteras Shoals.

Are Cape Lookout Shoals the original Diamond Shoals, and did some cartographer in years past make an error when he plotted them on his chart?

We think Cape Lookout Shoals are the original Diamond Shoals, and that our lighthouse is painted as it should be.

“Carteret County seems to have lost a lot of its history for lack of scribe ...”

From "Our Shared Past" prepared for the Diamond City & Ca'e Bankers Reunion, August 1999 as a collection of writings, research and recollections to tell the story of the Banks communities.
Copyright 1995, Core Sound Waterfowl Museum
All rights reserved.

Down East Community Tour
Core Sound Waterfowl Museum