North Carolina-Banker Ponies-November 11

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-November 11

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.

On August 13, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed the Shackleford Banks Wild Horses Protection Act.

The act, which amends the 1966 law that created the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, directed the National Park Service to partner with a local non-profit, Foundation for Shackleford Horses, Inc. to manage the herd of wild horses located on the uninhabited 9-mile long island called Shakleford Banks east of Morehead City between Beaufort Inlet and Cape Lookout.


The banker ponies, as they are often called, are small horses believed to have been descended from Spanish mustangs abandoned in the area about 400 years ago. Some have also tried to link the horses’ ancestry to Ponce de León or the Lost Colony, though their exact lineage is lost to history.


The 1998 act and subsequent revision in 2005 provides for a target range for the herd of between 110 and 130 horses. When the herd exceeds that target, a round up is held and excess healthy horses are adopted to out to different places around the country.

The banker ponies are the only inhabitants of the island today but there was a time when people lived on Shackleford Banks. Diamond City, named after the distinctive diamond pattern of the nearby Cape Lookout Lighthouse, was the largest town ever established on Shackleford Banks. It was situated on the east end before Barden Inlet divided the island from Core Banks, and it once had roughly 500 residents.

Hurricanes in the late 1890’s convinced residents to leave and it has been abandoned since 1902.



  1. Nice post. I shared on my blog.

    1. Thanks very much!

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