In 1873, Congress established the United States Life Saving Service to patrol the beaches looking for ships in distress along the treacherous North Carolina coast. Twelve Life Saving Stations were established - at seven mile intervals. The stations were patrolled by a crew of 5-10 men on foot or horseback. The most famous of these stations, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station was built in 1874. Its courageous crew risked their lives on a daily basis.
The Coast Guard, who later evolved out of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, decommissioned the complex in 1954. The buildings are one of the most complete U.S. Lifesaving Service/Coast Guard Station complexes on the Atlantic Coast. The main station (built in 1911) and the Fearing Shipwreck Exhibit are now museums that showcase lifesaving equipment, host daily programs, and even feature a few artifacts from actual shipwrecks in the area. An interesting part of history that is so throroughly preserved at the Chicamacomico site.