Before the implementation of vehicle ferries in the 1930s and 1940s and the building of the Oregon Inlet bridge in the early 1960s, freight boats delivered all necessary goods to the islands, from cloth for dress making, groceries and produce to supply general stores, to building materials for island homes. These boats, the 18-wheelers of their day, traveled along the sounds and rivers of eastern North Carolina from mainland centers of commerce like Elizabeth City, New Bern and Washington to the villages of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.

On the "Port Light Project" website, Washington historian Blount Rumley shares his memories of last freight boat to travel between Washington and Ocracoke, the "Bessie Virginia." Click here to listen.