The Highways of North Carolina
N.C. 12 
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Photo: NC 12 ending (Alex Nitzman)
NC 12's Northern End
N.C. 12  125 road miles
The Road: Begins at US 70 near Sea Level (Carteret County) and ends at the village of Corolla (Dare County)
Towns and Attractions: Carteret Co: Cedar Island Nat'l Wildlife Refuge
Hyde Co: Ocracoke
Dare Co: Cape Hatteras, NC Outer Banks, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Duck, Corolla
History: NC 12 was born as early as late 1962 with the completion of the Bonner Bridge. However, NC 12 does not appear on the 1963 Official. The 1964 or 1965 Official first shows it, running from US 158 Business Whalebone south to Hatteras, then a ferry across Hatteras Inlet, then west to the village of Ocracoke. This is was new primary routing and the 2nd NC 12.
In 1976, NC 12 was extended across the sound to the mainland to connect with US 70. The Cedar Island side had a road for a number of years before it became NC 12.
Between 1986-88, NC 12 was extended north along US 158 Business and then as new primary routing up to Corolla.

1965 Official
NC 12 initial routing
1976 Official
NC 12 on the mainland
1990-91 Official
NC 12 extended north

The first NC 12 was an original state highway. It initially began at NC 10-11 (today's US 70-258 Bus, NC 11-55) Kinston, running to Snow Hill via Hookerton, Farmville, Tarboro, Scotland Neck via Speed and Hobgood; then northwest to end at NC 40 (current US 301) near Halifax.
The first change to 12 was an interesting legal case study. The 1931 book, The State Highway System of North Carolina: Its Evolution and Present Status by Cecil Kenneth Brown relayed the story of how the highway department wanted to give NC 12 a direct routing from Tarboro to Scotland Neck. However, residents of Speed and Hobgood objected to losing the state highway and pointed to the 1921 Legislative Map showing 12 going through their towns. The courts ruled the highway department had the right to move 12 and so they did. The routings can be seen in the next two scans below.
1925 brought two changes to NC 12:


(1) NC 12 was rerouted at Scotland Neck to continue northeast to NC 48 (current US 158) near Murfreesboro. This was a renumbering of NC 128 to Rich Square and new primary routing north of that. The old route to Halifax became part of NC 125 - note that a lot of old NC 12 is today's "old NC 125" in this area.

1922 Auto Trails
NC 128's brief existence
1925 Official
NC 12 replaces NC 128


(2) NC 12 was extended southeast from Kinston to end at NC 30 (current US 17) Pollocksville. This was a replacement for NC 303.

1926 Official
NC 485 north of Murfreesboro
1925 Official
NC 12 replaces NC 303

In 1927, NC 12 was extended through Murfreesboro, then north to the Virginia Line (becoming VA 108), replacing NC 485.
Also in 1927, US 117 was added to the northern few miles of NC 12.

1926 Official
NC 485 north of Murfreesboro
1930 Official
NC 12 replaces NC 485


In 1932, US 117 became US 158 and US 258 was added to NC 12 from Murfreesboro south to Kinston. Thus, NC 12 was dropped from this routing in the Great Renumbering. Only Kinston to Pollocksville remained intact as NC 12.
NC 12 was renumbered as NC 58 between 1956-58.

1954 Official
NC 12 Kinston to US 17
1930 Official
NC 58 replaces NC 12

Comment: NC 12 connects the villages of the Outer Banks to one another. In some places the strip of land is very narrow -- NC 12 is susceptible to overwash of waves and sands during storms. The Bonner Bridge is in the process of being replaced by a new, more hurricane-resistant structure.
The Bonner Bridge did not introduce the Outer Banks to automobiles. Official maps from at least 1938-46 had a statement regarding travel on the Outer Banks -
"The Outer Banks" from a point opposite Roanoake Island to Ocracoke is traversed by a sandy trail over which an automobile can be driven with partially deflated tires. However, unless one is familiar with this mode of travel, local guide service is recommended.
Also described are the various ferries required. To reach Ocracoke from Hatteras one took a passenger ferry then used a bus. A separate ferry was available some years from Swanquarter to Ocracoke


The 1930 Dare County Map showed no roads south of Whalebone on the Outer Banks and official maps started showing ferries heading south from Whalebone towards Hatteras in 1932 or 1933.
I have a commercial map from the 1950s that shows a proposed extension of a road from Corrolla all the way up to the Sandbridge Beach area in Virginia. I don't recall any official NC or Virginia maps showing this. To do this today would be essentially impossible as there is a Virginia State Park and a National Wildlife Refuge present.
A new Currituck Sound crossing near the north end of NC 12 is in the planning stages. It is unclear whether this would be part of NC 12, NC 136 or a new number entirely. This bridge is under consideration for one of the North Carolina Toll Authority projects.

Last Update: 24 July 2007

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