Travelers along US 158 will cross the famous Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal en route to the Outer Banks. This historic waterway, which was conceived more than two centuries ago, continues to be a useful route for commercial and leisure mariners who are passing through Currituck County.


The following timeline provides a brief overview of the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal's lifespan to date.

  • 1772 - The concept of the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal is first proposed to the Virginia General Assembly. The project would be proposed to both Virginia and North Carolina governments more than 10 times in the decades that follow
  • 1787 - The Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal's competitor, the Dismal Swamp Canal, opens for maritime traffic
  • 1856 - Construction begins on the canal after technology has had a chance to catch up with the steam power required for the project. Nine "Iron Titans" start carving out trees and trucks to create the line of navigation
  • 1859 - The canal is completed, and becomes a heralded engineering marvel. The new route is effectively two canals which are 30 miles apart, and includes a "Virginia Section" which connects the Elizabeth River with the North Landing River and a "North Carolina Section" which connects the Currituck Sound with the North River
  • Late 1800s and early 1900s - Maritime traffic gradually shifts to the new Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal, leaving the Great Dismal Canal relatively obsolete.
  • 1899 - Great Dismal Swamp canal is renovated at the cost of more than a million dollars. Traffic increases slightly.
  • 1913 - The United States Government decides to purchase the Albemarle and Chesapeake over the Great Dismal Swamp Canal.
  • 1929 - The US government purchases the Great Dismal Swamp Canal as well - not out of necessity, but more as an act of "fairness."
  • 1940s - The Intracoastal Waterway and the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal becomes vital to the US government as a safe route for carrying cargo, as it is protected from the German U-Boats that lurk offshore.
  • 1960s to Today - The Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal is the preferred route for commercial traffic as well as motorboats and sailing vessels that are passing through the regions. Small marinas are established along the route in Coinjock for recreational users.

Accessing the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal

The best way to access this historic canal is via the small town of Coinjock, which is home to two local marinas - the Midway Marina and Motel and the Coinjock Marina. A public boat launch is located in Coinjock as well.

Via the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal, mariners can cruise the North River as well as the Currituck Sound's Coinjock Bay. The barrier Island Currituck Beaches, as well as the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, are also located between 4-8 miles away from the eastern entrance to the North Carolina section of the canal.

Quick Facts about Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal

  • The Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
  • The canal has always been a popular route for commercial vessels and shipping. Between 1970 and 1979, commerce on the canal portion of the ICW averaged about 1.4 million tons annually.
  • The North Carolina Cut of the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal, which connects the sound with the North River, is just 5.5 miles long.
  • Although the "cuts" in Virginia and North Carolina comprise of just 14 miles total, the canal itself - which flows through the North Landing River and the Currituck Sound - is about 200 miles long.
  • The Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal has an average depth of just 8' feet
  • Mariners can stop at the two marinas in Coinjock for a waterfront meal on the ICW at the Coinjock Marina's restaurant, or an overnight stay at the Midway Motel and Marina.
  • The best way to travel the canal is via a sailboat or motorized vessel. Kayaks and smaller watercraft are allowed, but will have to contend with much larger vessels
  • For a quieter trek with less traffic, head to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal, which is almost solely used by recreational - not commercial - vessels.
  • For a fun overnight trip, check out Elizabeth City, which is located northwest of Currituck County. The area offers a wealth of B&Bs, restaurants, and charming museums and historic sites.


Super Wings
Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Serving our customers on the Outer Banks since 1994, Big Buck's ice Cream is dedicated serving you “The Best.” We offer a full line of super-premium ice cream products, smoothies, chocolates, and custom-made ice cream cakes! 2 locations are open all year: Kitty Hawk, at Buccaneer's Walk Shopping Center and Manteo, at The Waterfront Shops.


We offer a full line of Espresso Drinks from Hot Vanilla Cappuccinos and Hot Chocolate to Iced Caramel Lattes & Frozen Mochas, all made to order. Big Buck’s fresh fruit smoothies are lactose-free and made to order. Also offering lactose-free sorbets made from the best fruits available. Old time favorites are sure to please! Choose from a delicious collection of milkshakes, sundaes and banana splits.


Savor the moment with our Homemade Chocolate! Chocolates are made daily in each location. We offer a large selection from Dark to Milk to White. Milk Chocolate Oreos & Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate Berries and Cherries Clusters & Hand-dipped Peppermint Patties with a Drizzle of White Chocolate, Extra-Dark Sea Salt Caramels & our famous homemade caramel chocolate pretzels oh & don’t forget the ever-popular caramel pecan turtle, just to name a few treats!


Belinda Pleva grew up serving ice cream out of her parent’s shop. She loved being part of what she calls “a happy business.” “I love it when people come into the shop and you hand them something, and it makes them smile,” Pleva says. “That moment when you hand an ice cream cone over to a little kid and their eyes just light up. That’s what I love about the ice cream business.”


In 1994, Pleva opened up her own ice cream and chocolate shop, Big Buck’s Ice Cream, in the brand-new Timbuk II Shopping Center in Corolla. Business was good, but something was missing.


“I was never satisfied with the ingredients in the ice creams and chocolates you could purchase back then. I wanted to serve my customers delicious flavors with ingredients they could actually pronounce,” Pleva says.


Pleva took a trip to Italy to study the gelaterias. She fell in love with the incredible flavors, and when she returned home to the Outer Banks, she began working tirelessly to perfect the flavors in her own ice cream.


Big Buck’s homemade ice cream combined the flavors of the Italian gelaterias and the richness of American ice cream. It quickly became a tourist favorite. After having the same unsatisfactory experience with the readymade chocolates she was selling, she also took a trip to Brussels to learn more about making handmade chocolates. Pleva brought the chocolate-making experience right back with her, and the result was the finest quality of chocolates on the Outer Banks.


After her huge success in the Corolla shop, Pleva was able to open up three more shops—one in Kitty Hawk, one in Manteo and one in Duck.

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