About Dare County


Dare County was founded in 1870 when the North Carolina General Assembly joined parts of Currituck, Hyde, and Tyrrell counties to form a new county in order to bring government functions closer to the people. Due to the North Carolina coast’s unique geography, it could take days for people to travel to their county seats. Upon the creation of Dare, Manteo was named the county seat due to its centralized location.


Named after Virginia Dare, the first child born of English parents in America, Dare County was formerly occupied by the Croatoan who inhabited the islands at the time English explorers sought to create a colony on Roanoke Island. The whereabouts and fate of the colonists that stayed on Roanoke Island is still an unsolved mystery. 


There are many other significant historical events and landmarks native to Dare County. Perhaps the most widely known event is the Wright Brothers' site of "first flight."

Dare County is comprised of nearly 110 miles of coastline. Cape Hatteras National Seashore was officially established as the first national seashore—protected areas and public land operated by the National Park Service—in 1953.

For more historical events, explore the GIS Timeline Map.

Photo: Courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center, State Archives of North Carolina.