New Pea Island Bridge named after OBX hero who was born a slave

Credit: North Carolina Department of Transportation

RODANTHE, N.C. (WAVY) — The new Pea Island Bridge is going to be named for a man who was born a slave and became a local hero.

Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation — along with state and local leaders — dedicated the Captain Richard Etheridge Bridge in a ceremony Tuesday.

Etheridge was born in 1842, and later became the leader of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station. This was an all African American unit credited with saving countless of lives.

The Coast Guard says Etheridge was the first African American to command a life-saving station.

Etheridge and his crew was awarded a medal by the U.S. Coast Guard for a heroic rescue of people aboard the E.S. Newman during a hurricane in 1896.

The Coast Guard has a cutter named in Etheridge’s honor.

The new bridge opened last fall, and replaced a temporary metal bridge built after Hurricane Irene.

“I cannot think of a more appropriate way to honor Captain Richard Etheridge,” Dare County Commission Chairman Robert Woodard stated. “I hope every Outer Banks resident that crosses this bridge thinks about his legacy, and shares his story with everyone in their vehicle.”