Author: North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
Top photo: Portrait of Carolista Baum, with the Jockey's Ridge dunes in the background, from the NC DPR Archives
Carolista Fletcher Baum, a fearless advocate for environmental preservation, will be recognized with a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker for her pivotal role in safeguarding the iconic Jockey's Ridge on the Outer Banks. The dedication ceremony for the marker will take place Friday, July 7, at 10 a.m., at 300 Carolista Drive in Nags Head.
On August 15, 1973, Baum courageously positioned herself in the path of a bulldozer sent to remove sand from Jockey's Ridge. Defying the machine's progress and finally engaging in a heartfelt conversation with the bulldozer's operator, the driver departed the dune.
While local organizations had previously discussed protecting the expansive dune from encroaching development, it was Baum's unwavering determination that transformed the idea into reality. Inspired by her dramatic protest, Baum co-founded the group People to Preserve Jockey's Ridge, rallying support through fundraising initiatives and petition drives to capture the attention of state lawmakers and local officials.
In 1973, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation released a report advocating for the preservation of Jockey's Ridge as a state park. A year later, the dune received the distinguished designation of a National Natural Landmark. With the General Assembly's allocation of funds in 1975, the preservation of this natural wonder was secured for future generations to cherish.
The dedication ceremony will feature speakers, including Ansley Wegner, head of the North Carolina Historical Research Office, and George Barnes, the first superintendent of Jockey's Ridge State Park. Additionally, members of the Baum family will be present to share stories of Carolista Fletcher Baum's extraordinary legacy.
The marker is located on U.S. 158 at Carolista Drive in Nags Head. It reads:
Carolista Baum, 1940-1991
Environmental activist. Stopped destruction of Jockey's Ridge sand dune in 1973. Fundraised and lobbied to preserve as a N.C. State Park, 1975.
This blog post is adapted from a press release by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.