With its two stations and five outbuildings, Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station (pronounced chi-ka-ma-COM-i-co) is the most complete site of all remaining life-saving stations in North Carolina and one of the most complete sites in the nation. This site and museum is located on Hatteras Island in the village of Rodanthe on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Their purpose as a Historical Association is to restore, preserve, protect, educate and interpret the rich history of these valiant men and their dedication to the U.S. Life-Saving Service, as well as interpreting the history of the buildings and artifacts. As we near the 100th Anniversary of the Mirlo Rescue on August 16, 2018, Chicamacomico Historic Site prepares to commemorate it with a centennial event on the grounds.


The details vary on how many times it took for John Allen Midgett and his men to launch and whether they used oars or the motor in the many renditions of the Mirlo Rescue story. These different versions of the Mirlo story are derived from several sources: written accounts in newspapers based on earlier accounts, studies of the Chicamacomico Station done by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, interviews of surfmen who were in Number 1046 surfboat that fateful day, accounts from stories passed down by residents in the local community, the log book of Chicamacomico Keeper John Allen Midgett and the Die Kriegestagebucher Von U-117 (official German war diary) from the submarine’s Kapitanleutenant Droscher. The contemporaneous logs are accurate and compelling enough without embellishment. The story tellers, on the other hand, bring to life the horrendous nightmare that John Allen Midgett, his courageous surfmen and the Mirlo victims experienced. This event includes historically accurate Beach Apparatus Drill reenactment, described below by Apparatus Drill Keeper, Larry Grubbs.

After a 17 year hiatus, the all-civilian, all-volunteer Beach Apparatus Drill Team has returned to present the historically accurate Beach Apparatus Drill reenactment at Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station located in Rodanthe, NC. At one of the first US LifeSaving Service Stations built on the North Carolina coast, Thursday afternoons are spent exactly like they were in the early and mid 19th century...with the performance of the Beach Apparatus Drill, in accordance with the 1871 regulations as set forth by Chief of the Revenue Marine Division of the US Treasury, Sumner I. Kimball. 

Apparatus Drill

The season starts in late May with the preparation of the rigging, beach cart, wreck pole, and simulated ship’s mast (across which the shot line is fired and the lifesaving equipment secured). In 2017, they received The Board of Directors help to ensure the theatrical logistics, insurance policy allowing them to fire the Lyle gun, a19th century line-throwing device, also the centerpiece of the drill at Chicamacomico. 239 total hours of training from new group members assures that the drill can be performed safely and effectively. Each team member, in a group of 12, must confidently know the entire role of the each other team member in the case of their absence. The crew is trained in everything from Lyle gun safety and crowd control, to knots, rigging and public speaking. The commitment from these men, especially considering the amount of time spent, is to be commended.

Apparatus Drill - Rodanthe, NC

The 2017 season ended with eleven public performances conducted, including a first-ever training and performance by the Junior Leadership Program students from Camden High School. Don’t miss the opportunity to be transported back to the 19th century to see early-American heroes in action this upcoming 2018 season. Their intention is to start Thursday, May 31, 2018 and run weekly through Thursday, September 6, 2018, weather permitting. Visit their website for more information.