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THE DAM NECK STORY
Dam Neck, Virginia
Anti-aircraft seen from a certain distance
On a steely blue night say a mile away
Flows on the air absolutely dream-like,
The vision has no relation to the reality.
The floating balls of light are tossed easily
And float out into space without a care,
They are the sailors of the gentlest parables
In a companionship and with a kind of flare.
They are a controlled kind of falling star.
But not falling, rising and floating and going, out.
Teasing together in effervescent spectacle
Seemingly better than natives: man is on the lookout.
The men are firing tracers, practising at night.
Each specialist himself precision instrument.
There expert prestidigitators press the luminance
In knowledge of and ignorance of their doing.
They do not know the dream-like vision ascending
In me, one mile away: They had not thought of that
Huddled in darkness behind their bright projectors
They are the scientists of the skill to kill.
As this sight and show is gentle and false
The truth of guns if fierce that aims of death.
Of war in the animal sinews let us speak not.
But of the beautiful disrelation of the spiritual.
In 1944, LT Richard Eberhart was a sighting instructor
at the Aviation Fire Gunnery Unit, as the command at Dam
Neck was then called. Today he is a Professor of English and
the Poet in Residence at Dartmouth College.
Mr. Eberhart, a winner of many poetry prizes, was also
consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress from 1955-
Preface to the Second Edition
This second edition of the Dam Neck Story was prepared under the direction of Captain Dwight M.
Agnew, Jr., Commanding Officer, Fleet Combat Training Center, Atlantic, in response to the continued
interest shown in the history of the Dam Neck area.
No special attempt has been made to update the purely historical data of the first edition published in
1969. Therefore, the historical narrative should be interpreted in the time frame of the first edition.
Special thanks are extended to Captain Jerry J. Edwards, Commanding Officer, Fleet Combat Direc-
tion Systems Support Activity, for his guidance and assistance in bringing about the reality of this edition of
the Dam Neck Story.
F.J. SCHWINDLER, Lieutenant, USN
Public Affairs Officer
Fleet Combat Training Center, Atlantic
Dam Neck is one of the Navy's' most advanced training centers. The maintenance and
operation of the Navy's newest guided missile and computerized tactical data systems are taught
here, and in the near future it will be equipped to communicate with and train ships and aircraft
at sea as an integral part of Navy Task Forces engaged in fleet exercises. But Dam Neck is more
than a training center. It does not take long for men and women stationed there to realize that
Dam Neck is a focal point of the history of this part of Virginia. Even though Dam Neck was not
a significant contributor to the political history for which Virginia is famous, the area is still rich
with the stories of a hard working and brave people. The state and nation can be as proud of these
Virginians as it is of those more famous Virginia personalities.
This presence of history at Dam Neck has been sensed by most Commanding Officers of the
Training Center, and consequently, there have been nearly as many projects devoted to this history
as there have been Commanding Officers. The work which follows is the latest in this series, and
is an effort to provide a far more extensive account than those previously done. Documentation
has been provided so that anyone interested in pursuing the research further may do so without
having to cover old ground.
This history was prepared under the direction of Captain Stuart T. Sadler, USN, Command-
ing Officer, Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center, Atlantic. The author is indebted to many local
residents, historians and other interested people who provided invaluable information and rare photo-
graphs, and to whom credit is acknowledged at the end of this book. Also thanks goes to Ensign
Al Hinkle and Journalist First Class Bill Reed of the Public Affairs Office, Fleet Anti-Air Warfare
Training Center, who assisted in preparing the material and providing some of the photography.
This history was prepared and published not only to satisfy curiosity and preserve the past
before it escapes us, but also to retain the ties which exist between Dam Neck and its present
residents, on the one hand, and the former residents and their descendents on the other. It is there-
fore hoped that this book will strengthen these bonds of community through awareness of the
mutual interest that we have in Dam Neck's past and her future.
JOHN A. TINKHAM
i "Dam Neck, Virginia"
ii Preface to the Second Edition
I Princess Anne County and Dam Neck Mills
II The Navy Training Center at Dam Neck
III Maps and Aerial Photographs
IV Footnotes, Bibliography and Major Contributors
V Past Commanding Officers of the Major U. S. Navy Commands
at Dam Neck
I - PRINCESS ANNE COUNTY AND DAM NECK MILLS
DAM NECK is in the Virginia Beach, Virginia, area where
the Jamestown settlers first landed; where pirates may-
have hid their treasures; where battles of the Revolutionary-
War were fought; where the Blue and the Gray clashed; and
more recently, where German submarines sank American ship-
ping within yards of the beach. This area is full of colorful
names such as: London Bridge, Princess Anne, Cape Henry,
Wolf Snare Road, Colechester Road, Indian River Road, Pungo,
and Dam Neck. These names reflect the settling of early
English-speaking people and the Indians that lived here, and
invite curiosity about the stories behind these names.
Even before the European Settlers, the Chesapeake Indi-
ans lived in villages a few miles inland. No one knows how
far back their civilization reaches. No doubt in the warm
summer months the Indians camped on the coast where they
fished and dried their catch for the winter months. They
were also the first "tourists" to Virginia Beach, as they prob-
ably swam in the warm ocean and collected sea shells. ®
In the 16th Century, both England and Spain began at-
tempts to colonize the New World. There is evidence that
between 1528 and 1570 shipwi'ecks occurred off Cape Hatteras
and northward. In 1570, 37 years before Jamestown, a small
group of Spanish Jesuit missionaries entered the Chesapeake
Bay, sailed up the James River and landed not far from the
present town of Williamsburg. Two years later a relief expedi-
tion rescued this colony's sole survivor of an Indian massacre
and sailed for Spain. Thus ended the first recorded attempt
by Europeans to settle what is now Virginia. Between 1570-
1585 two attempts were made by Sir Walter Raleigh to colonize
Roanoke Island south of here. These English colonists jour-
neyed northward up the coast, rounded Cape Henry and visited
the Indian villages on Lynnhaven River, going on as far as
the Indian Village on the site of the City of Norfolk. ®
Pirate ships and their crews also knew the Virginia coast.
There are legends that Blackbeard, the infamous pirate, buried
Spanish gold where the city of Virginia Beach stretches along
the coast. This is quite possible since his pirate ships operated
out of Trinity Harbor, North Carolina (near Manteo). The
years from 1699 to 1721 saw many raids by pirate ships off
the Virginia Capes and inside Chesapeake Bay. Blackbeard's
pirate fleet was finally subdued and lookouts were posted along
the beach and to the south of Cape Henry to warn gun batteries
in the Chesapeake Bay of pirate invasions. ®
Historically, the most important event took place on April
26, 1607. The Jamestown colonists led by Captain John Smith
landed just south of the cape that marks the entrance to Chesa-
peake Bay. They named this place Cape Henry for the son of
their King. Today Fort Story is located on the cape. In 1607,
a broad inlet (Stratten's Creek) from the ocean is believed to
have entered present day Crystal Lake in the area of 49th
Street, and flowed on into Broad and Linkhorn Bays. In small
skiffs the settlers explored these waterways where yellow jas-
samine climbed and dogwood blossomed. Percy, one of the
party, wrote, "God never fashioned a better place for man's
habitat". They did not remain long, but took their three ships
up the river to an island where they settled and named the
Records of Princess Anne go back to 1606 and 1609 when
the area was included in lands granted by charter to Sir Thomas
Gates by King James of England. Other En^ishmen received
grants all along the coast. Actual settlement did not occur until
a few decades later. Once the settlement at Jamestown became
firmly established, and the practice of permitting private owner-
ship of land started in 1617, expansion of the colony took place
quickly. The first settlements to the east of the Elizabeth River
appear to have started in the 1630's; and included plantations
on the Lynnhaven River. Soon homes were built at Pungo
Ridge near Dam Neck. The ridge is high ground that runs
parallel to the ocean two miles inland. Plantations sprang up
on other local ridges where farm land was the best. ®
In 1634 the colony was divided into eight counties and
Princess Anne was a part of Elizabeth City County. In 1637
the Duke of Norfolk was granted the area south of the James
River comprising the area of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesa-
peake, Portsmouth and Nansemond County. This area was to
be known as New Norfolk County. The next year it was to be
part of Lower Norfolk County and in April 1691, was estab-
lished as a separate county and named for Anne, second
daughter of James IT. During the next 130 years the govern-
ment of Princess Anne County was moved a number of times
and also several courthouses and jails were constructed. The
present courthouse at Princess Anne was opened in 1822 and
enlarged in the early 1900's. On January 1, 1963, the county
merged with the City of Virginia Beach.
Courthouse records dating back to 1691 are filed in Princess
Anne Courthouse and show ownership of land, wills and other
records of interest. Among these old courthouse records are
the trials of Grace Sherwood, who was tried for witchcraft.
In 1706, Grace Sherwood was accused of being a witch. She
consented to a hearing, which consisted of a search of her
body by a jury of eight women. The findings of this jury
indicated the presence of certain marks and spots which, in
accordance with the popular belief of that day, indicated her
guilt. The final part of the trial consisted of a ducking. If she
drowned, she was innocent. If she survived, she was guilty.
The sheriff carried out this trial, and she was bound hand and
foot and thrown into the Lynnhaven River at Witchduck Point.
However, he rigged the trial in such a way as to insure that
she could free herself and survive. Consequently, she was
judged guilty and imprisoned. She was later freed and granted
some land at Muddy Creek, between Lake Tecumseh and Back
Bay, where she lived for the rest of her life. The names of
persons involved in these proceedings indicate that this "be-
witching" occurred not far from the area of Dam Neck. One
of her principle accusers as well as the forewoman of the jury
which searched her was Elizabeth Barnes whose husband,
Anthony, owned land along the dams at Dam Neck. ®
In 1752 the House of Burgesses at Williamsburg ordered
a lighthouse to be built at Cape Henry. Ships entering the
capes were to be charged according to their tonnage for the
cost of keeping the light. The lighthouse, however, was not
built until after the Revolutionary War. Its construction was
ordered during the first term of office of George Washington
in 1791. It was the first lighthouse built under the new govern-
ment. The structure was constructed upon a foundation of
rocks that were brought over as ballast in ships from England.
Within the shadow of this lighthouse, which is no longer in
use but stands near a newer one at Fort Story, is a granite
cross that marks the spot where the Jamestown settlers first
Because of its location. Princess Anne County suffered in-
vasions by the British during the Revolutionary War. Battles
of the war were fought here and Lord Dunmore established
headquarters for the British troops at Kemps ville just west
of here. At that time the settlement was a river landing point
for supplies. In 1812 the coast was invaded by a company of
British sailors who went ashore from a frigate. They were
met a mile inland by the County Militia. The British re-
treated to their ship and bombarded the coast. This military
engagement gave a name to the coastline from that time on;
it was called Seatack, a shortening of the words Sea Attack.
The little community of Seatack still bears the name. Princess
Anne County was again invaded during the Civil War and the
courthouse was occupied by Federal Troops. Fortunately none
of the records from the courts were destroyed.
One of the original inhabitants of Dam Neck was Thomas
Brinson, who lived there until 1675. Various deeds and wills
indicate that his sons, Matthew and John, owned a plantation
and several hundred acres on the ponds at Dam Neck. ® One
tract is described as "lying and being in dam nick® on the
south side of a line from a corner tree of John James to the
round swamp, along the east side of the round swamp to the
land of William Brocks (Brock), along the dams to cleared
ground of Anthony Barnes". ® The area was also known as
Brushe Ridge. The section of Route 615 between Dam Neck
Road and Prosperity Road is still referred to as Brock's Bridge,
after William Brock and his family. Mrs. Sadie and Mrs. Hope
Kellam believe that the Brinson family lived in a house on the
west shore of what is now Lake Tecumseh, It is described with
a photograph in their book, "Old Houses in Princess Anne".
Unfortunately since that book was written, the house and
another old one near it were destroyed by a hurricane in 1941
or 1942. They were last occupied by the Grimstead family. All
that remains is two old burial grounds in Mr. C. E. Upton's
com field. The houses can be seen on Department of Agricul-
ture aerial photographs of 1937 (Map 9).®
Since the Brinson deed includes mention both of dams
and the name, Dam Neck, it is evident that the name came
from these dams, in spite of the many other versions of how
the name originated. The location of the dams cannot be
determined from these records, since land boundaries are iden-
tified only by reference to the neighbor who owned the adja-
cent land, or by trees which have long since disappeared. How-
ever, Earl Woodhouse, Mrs. W. H. Belanga, and others claim
that they were located between the two ponds, near where
Dam Neck Road crosses the creek between the ponds. They
also claim that the dams were beaver dams. The beaver dams
are also mentioned in other early patents. Henry Woodhouse
received 275 acres in 1652 "beginning at the head of a beaver
damm", and John Richardson received 100 acres "near the
bever dams" in 1688.® (These two grants probably refer to
other beaver dams in the vicinity. Richardson's grant probably
was on an eastern branch of the Lynnhaven River.) It is
common practice in this area to name the peninsulas sur-
rounded by bays and inlets as "necks" (for example, Birdneck,
Great Neck and Little Neck). Dam Neck appears to have been
originally the peninsula bounded on the east by Lakes Redwing
and Tecumseh and bounded on th&' north and south by the
swamps extending westward from these lakes. At that time,
the name was not applied to the shore on the east of these
lakes, where the Navy has its property. This fact is verified
by present residents of the area, who also apply the name to
that area west of the lakes.
Dam Neck became associated with the shore area to the
east of the ponds, later, on account of the windmills standing
there from about 1780 until almost 1900. They were known
as "Dam Neck Mills". The name became firmly established
when it was given to the life saving station built in 1881.
Other versions of the origin of the name are more color-
ful and although the above explanation would make one doubt
their accuracy, it is possible that there might be some truth
to them. One story is that during the period when Captain
Barnes was keeper, a worker fell from the structure and broke
his neck. Another story is that a man and wife were walking
toward the beach along the route where Dam Neck Road now
lies. They walked along the causeway to the log bridge over
the creek joining the two ponds. The man went ahead, leaving
his wife to cross behind as best she could. A bystander watch-
ing called to the husband to give his wife a hand, whereupon
the husband called back that he hoped his wife would fall and
break her "dam neck".
The patent records at Richmond reveal the name "Dam
Neck" even earlier than the Brinson records mentioned above.
A patent was a grant of previously unowned land from the
King to a settler. The customary practice was to award 50
acres to a sponsor for each settler whom he brought to the
colony. The earliest mention of Dam Neck in these records is
dated 1657 in a patent awarding William Cornix 390 acres
"beginning on northeast poynt of the Damm Necke .... by
Wm. Dyer's land". ® Another dated 1671 was a patent to
William Brock for 350 acres "at the head of the fresh ponds
in Dam Neck". ®
A map made by General Benedict Arnold for the British
Army about 1780 shows an inlet connecting both ponds with
the ocean and extending both north and south from the inlet
(Map 4). It might be assumed that the dams had been con-
structed by man to protect the low lying land and the ponds
from tidal water entering the inlet. The evidence that they
were beaver dams would discount this theory. However, the
dams could very well have been maintained by man for this
purpose. There are many such ponds in the area, formed by
damming inlets. It would be interesting to know just where
the inlet was, how extensive it was, how long it was there, and
how the ponds have changed.
Brinson's Inlet is mentioned in only one deed, although
the property in the vicinity changed hands many times. In
1836, "Brinson Inlet" is given as the northern boundary of
land owned by Henry and James Robinson. ® Although no local
residents have any recollection of an inlet there, the land con-
taining the burial ground is commonly known as "Robinson's
Island". The land surrounded by the ocean, the inlet, Lake
Tecumseh, and the swamp to the south (Black Gut) would
almost have formed an island, connected to the mainland only
by Sandbridge. This deed, beliefs of residents and the distri-
bution of sand and clay soils there indicate that the inlet led
into the northeast corner of Tecumseh. A surveyor pointed
out that the shape of Lake Redwing indicates that it could
have been a river long ago. This would have to have been
before the white settlers arrived because no maps show any
indication that the inlet extended beyond the two Dam Neck
ponds. The inlet did not extend as far as Back Bay to the
south nor Linkhorn Bay to the north. There would not there-
fore be very much tidal flow through the passage to keep it
open. A geodetic expert at the Army Corps of Engineers,
Norfolk District, doesn't believe that there has been any signi-
ficant inlet here. All along the shore south of Cape Henry into
North Carolina, the conditions are such that it is not unusual
for extremely high tides to wash across the dunes into the bays
and marshes beyond. When this happens, if there is not al-
ready an inlet nearby through which the water can drain back
to the ocean, an opening forms and then later closes. This
happened at the Dam Neck beach at the time of the 1933
hurricane. The geodetic expert believes that there has been
such an opening in the Dam Neck beach many times in the
past, but that it was never more than a temporary drainage
Until recently. Lake Redwing was known only as Fresh
Pond, and Lake Tecumseh, Salt Pond. However, in the very
old records (before the time of Brinson's Inlet) these and
other ponds (Lake Christine, Black Gut) were simuly "the
fresh ponds". Mrs. Kellan's research reveals that the Brinson
House was built by what was then called a "fresh pond," later
known as "Salt Pond" (now Tecumseh). ® In none of the re-
cords is Lake Redwing called a salt pond, and the only indica-
tion that it was ever open to the ocean is the Arnold map. It
appears, therefore, that Brinson's Inlet was only temporary,
and that any open connection with Lake Redwing was of even
Although there are many maps of the early Virginia coast-
line, there are no records other than the Arnold map with an
inlet labeled "Brinson's Inlet." ® Other maps of this period
show an inlet in the vicinity, but it is not clear whether it is
Brinson's or Rudee Inlet. An example is a map at the Mariners
Museum entitled "The State of Virginia" and from the best
authorities, dated 1796. Also some 16th and early 17th century
maps show an irregular coastline with various indentations
along the Virginia coast between Rudee Inlet and Currituck
Inlet at the present North Carolina line, but they are so rough
and inaccurate that one cannot determine where these indenta-
tions were located, if they actually existed at all. Examples
are the John Smith and White-DuBry maps. (Maps 1 and 2.)
Another original local landowner at Dam Neck was William
Basnett who in 1689 owned the land on the ocean "at the head
of the great ponds". ® This was part of a large patent granted
to him in 1675. Other 17th century Dam Neck settlers were
Ed Moore, John Swillivant, Purvis, John Atwood, John Brown,
John Richardson ; all were neighbors of the Brinsons.
Four names of particular interest to Dam Neck are those
on the grave stones in the Robinson cemetery. Two of these
are James Robinson (1780-1841) and his wife, Elizabeth (1787-
1843). (Figures 1, 2.) They owned the land where the ceme-
tery is located, "Robinson's Island" (also sometimes spelled
"Roberson's Island"), and their home stood just behind the
foundations of the old garage at the intersection of Regulus
Avenue and Dove Street. A small apple tree growing out of
the stump of an old tree can be found there now. James
Robinson received the land in 1836 from Henry Robinson, who
was probably his brother.
After the death of James and Elizabeth Robinson, the
land passed through several hands.® It was purchased by
David Dunton of Currituck County, who died in 1855 soon
after making the purchase. His gravestone stands in the
Robinson cemetery. (Figure 3.) The property was left for
the use of his wife Caroline and then passed to the brothers
and sisters of David (heirs and children of A. B. Dunton) :
Polly, Dorcas, Sabrina and John.
Torn Trjf I i'-OO ^
Fiff. 1-4 These four gravestones arc
the only ones remaining in the Robin-
son cemetery at the Fleet Anti-Air
Warfare Training Center, Dam Neck.
In 1865, William Barco came into possession of this stretch
of shoreline. He was the father of Bailey T. Barco, who was
keeper of the Dam Neck Mills Life Saving Station. Bailey
and his brother, Jonathan, each lived in houses on Salt Pond
(Tecumseh). The Robinson house had burned down, and Jona-
than built a new house in its place. Bailey's house was to the
north, near the fishing pier at the end of Dove Street. Bailey's
daughter, Mrs. William H. Belanga, says she lived there as a
child, but since there was no school in the neighborhood, the
family had to move to Norfolk. Bailey was Keeper at that
time and lived at the station. The family would come to Dam
Neck Mills and live in the Life Saving Station during the
summer school vacation. William Barco and his wife Julia are
buried in the Robinson cemetery, although their gravestones
are missing. Also, Mrs. Belanga says she has two baby sisters
buried there. The fourth remaining gravestone is that of Julia
A. Whitehurst (1863-1883). (Figure 4.) She was a daughter
of Jonathan Barco and had married Edward Whitehurst.
Another name which keeps reappearing in Dam Neck
history is Rainey. The peninsula containing the Public Works
and Supply buildings used to be known as "Rainey Point". It
was owned for generations by the Rainey family, until the
early 19th century, along with the land south and west of
Tecumseh. Also the pond west of Sandbridge, now called
"Black Gut", was formerly known as Rainey Pond (sometimes
"Railey's Pond"). Some people apply the name, Rainey Pond,
to Lake Tecumseh. Perhaps the entire wet area containing
Black Gut, Lake Tecumseh and the swamp between them was
Rainey's Pond. The Rainey home stood approximately at the
present location of the Navy Exchange parking lot.
On the road to Sandbridge is the Belanga fish house. Be-
fore the Navy arrived, the Belanga family lived in a two-story
house on Redwing Lake near the Rifle Range Instruction
Building 326. Their fish house was then located at the north-
west corner of Dam Neck Road and the present Regulus
Avenue. Before 1891, Joseph Belanga owned most of the land
along the north and east shores of Lake Redwing. A road
running past his home was named for him. (See Map 6.)
Earlier records ® also show that the area between the southeast
shore of Lake Tecumseh and the beach was the estate of James
Belanga, who died in 1887. A 1907 survey ® shows a four-room
house on the shore of Tecumseh just south of the DASH area,
beyond the drainage canal, which was not there until the
1930's. James Belanga owned land as far north as the cove
located behind the old skeet shooting area between Dove and
Bullpup Streets. The story of his heroic death is told later in
the account of the Elisabeth shipwieck. This land was sold
to the Atwood Gunning Club, which extended around the south
end of Tecumseh. Most of this area was marsh, except for a
ridge along the lake shore (now Bullpup Street) and the dunes.
The Morrisettes are another family having close connec-
tions with this area. The three brothers, Leonard, Vernon, and
Arnold Morrisette each lived in homes along Lake Redwing
beyond the present Commanding Officer's quarters. The Mor-
risettes lived, farmed and hunted in the area around both lakes.
It appears that much of the Brinson estate was sold to the
Morrisette brothers in the mid 1700's, and several members of
this family are buried in the cemetery across Lake Tecumseh,
Bill Morrisette now works for the Public Works Department
as a plumber. He was born in the Croatan Club on Rainey
Point, where his father, Vernon, was caretaker.
Mrs. H. A. Padon, Leonard's daughter, has provided some
interesting photographs of the Morrisette family, their home.
Lake Redwing and the old school. (Figures 5, 7.) Leonard
owned a hunting camp on the pond where the fishing pier now
stands near the Married Enlisted Quarters. He called it Camp
Redwing, and it was from this camp that Lake Redwing later
got its name. The schoolhouse stood on the east side of the
road, beyond the present BOQ. It had one teacher. Miss Love
Gresham (now Mrs. Hutchins) who taught all grades. The
school was popularly known as "Corn Cob College" because of
the practice of burning corn cobs for heat.
The Croatan Club was one of many "Gunning Clubs" which
were popular from about 1900 to 1930. There were many in
Princess Anne County, especially around the ponds along the
shore and in the Back Bay area. They were private clubs whose
main attraction was duck hunting. They provided a retreat
Fig. 5 Home of Leonard Morrisette on Lake Redwing near the present
Fig. 6 William Henry Morrisette (right), father of Leonard, Vernon
and Arnold Morrisette and former resident of Dam Neck Mills.
Fig. 7 Schoolhouse on Redwing Lake, school children, and other local
residents. (1-r) : 1. Payne Grimstead, 2. Howard Morrisette, 3. Frances
Morrisette (now Mrs. Smith), 4. Nash Morrisette, wife of Leonard, 5.
Leonard Morrisette, 6. Thelma Belanga, 7. Willis Baum, 8. Marguerite
Morrisette (now Mrs. Padon), 9. Senora Morrisette, 10. Langley Morri-
sette, 11. Earl Morrisette, 12. Billy Baum, 13. Florence Baum, 14. Captain
Henry Holmes, 15. Stella Baum, 16. Virginia Grimstead, 17. Raymond
Grimstead, 18. Herman Grimstead, 19. Elizabeth Grimstead (now Mrs.
Bartee). Photograph taken by the teacher. Love Gresham (now Mrs.
where wealthy industrialists could get away from the pressures
of city life and relax. The Croatan Club was owned by a Mr.
Abraham V. Wyckoff, vice-president of one of the large
northern railroads. The hunting was ideal in those days, and
the ponds were full of ducks and geese. During certain seasons
they are still plentiful, but old timers say they used to be far
more abundant. The clubhouse was built of durable cypress
logs, by the father of Mr. Alvin Gilbert, who is employed at
the Dam Neck steam heat plant. The logs came from the trees
which grew in the marshland. There was a big fireplace at
one end of the main room, and several bedrooms. Mr. Wyckoff
and his friends would come and relax for short vacations. They
would hunt, play "setback", a card game, by the light of kero-
sene lamps and drink the locally made whiskey made from the
excellent well water which was then available here. In those
days the Dam Neck Mills area was famous for its whiskey
which was one of the main sources of income for some of the
residents. It is said that there might still be bottles of whiskey
hidden under the sand hills along the beach. At the time of
the depression, the club went bankrupt and was sold, but the
whiskey production continued. The building was still there
when the Navy arrived. It was used for recreation, and CDR
Spencer, the third Commanding Officer, wanted to rehabilitate
it for a Chief's Club. Plumbing and electrical fixtures were
installed, but the expense of extending electric and water lines
to that isolated area was too great. Finally the project was
abandoned and one of the barracks buildings near the gun line
was converted to a Chief's Club instead. The clubhouse was
used for storage and after deteriorating, was destroyed to make
room for the sewage disposal plant.
There were other clubs nearby, too. The Atwood Gunning
Club has already been mentioned. In 1930, a Mr. Bell from
Waverly, Virginia owned a small club in the same general area.
His clubhouse was on the beach near the DASH helicopter pad.
He owned several duck blinds around the south end of Lake
Tecumseh. Farther to the south was a large Sandbridge Gun-
ning Club owned by the Penrose Brothers from New Jersey.
Another name with close attachments is Malbon. David
and Francis (Fanny) Malbon owned the "Rainey tract" in 1907.
A survey shows this area of Lake Tecumseh and the beach
also extended to the ocean. The former Rainey home is also
shown on this survey. ® The Malbons also owned land to the
north beyond the Life Saving Station and to the west of Lake
Much of the area around Lake Redwing used to be known
as the Stormont estate ; since it was in that family for several
generations. The Stormont brothers also owned large tracts
of land all along the beach, including the land to the south of
Lake Tecumseh. They were fishermen and are still in that busi-
ness at Virginia Beach. Their father was also wreck-master
for the beach. Most of the commercial fishing done by local
residents was "pound fishing"; that is, fishing for croakers,
bluefish, spot and other small fish that have always been plenti-
ful off the coast. Fishing was done by net. The net was put
into the water by boat and raised daily as long as there were
fish and the market price remained up. Fishing was seasonal
to a certain extent, as different kinds of fish would be plentiful
at different times of the year. The nets were worked also from
the shore, as shown in a well known painting by Mr. Kenneth
Harris. (See figure 8.) Many helpers were required to work
the nets. These workers lived in small shacks along the beach
during the fishing seasons. Although most of these workers
owned homes in the vicinity, the transportation was bad and
undependable. When rain made the marshes overflow it was
easier to spend the night in a shack on the beach so as to be
ready for work early in the morning. The Stormonts used the
land for farming and as a source of poles for the pound fishing
Bass fishing in the fresh water ponds was always good,
as it still is at Back Bay. Fishing there was for pleasure, except
that during the depression, some local residents were able to
earn some extra income selling these fish.
Life was hard for the early residents of Dam Neck Mills.
Hurricanes and tidal waves would drive them from their homes,
flood their land and scatter their livestock. Heavy rains would
flood the roads making them impassable. The Life Saving Sta-
tion surfmen often risked their lives to rescue survivors of a
shipwreck. Yet the people remained.
Upon seeing the original watercolor, Louisa Venable Kyle,
a local historian and newspaper writer, was inspired to find out
all she could about these old windmills. The results of her
research were published in several articles in the Norfolk-
Virginian Pilot in 1052. Her research was also put to use in
restoring the Robertson windmill at Williamsburg. That mill
is still in operation and is of the same type as the Dam Neck
mills. (Figure 9.) The following paragraphs are quoted from
Mrs. Kyle's article of December 14, 1952.
"The American Indians were frightened by the wind-
mills that the early English settlers built and believed
that an evil spirit turned the long arms and with his
great teeth bit the corn into little pieces. When the wind
blew and the sails made a great noise, it filled the Red
Man with terror and he flew to the safety of the forest.
Fijj. 7A Water color painting sketch of Chapel by the Sea and Dam
Neck Mills hv "S. W. J." in 1S90.
In 1890, an unknown artist staying at the famous Princess
Anne Hotel at Virginia Beach strolled down the beach looking
for an interesting landscape. A few miles south of the town,
he found and painted the picturesque "Chapel by the Sea" with
two windmills in the background. (Figure 7A.) This water-
color painting used to hang on the wall of Dr. Robert Wood-
house's office at Virginia Beach. It is now in the possession of
Miss Sarah Wilson, his sister-in-law, and is the only known
first-hand graphic record of these windmills. ® Since that time,
Kenneth Harris has painted several similar pictures of the
mills, based on this watercolor and other research in order that
they might be shown as authentically as possible. One of his
paintings was done for the new Bachelor Officers Quarters in
1954 on the occasion of dedication of the new buildings just
constructed. (Figure 8.) That painting shows fishermen with
their nets, as well as the mills and the chapel.
;d : L -r-
Fig. 8 Painting of fishermen and windmills at Dam Neck Mills by
Kenneth Harris. The Chapel by the Sea can be seen in the distance.
It was painted on the occasion of the opening of the Bachelor Officer
Quarters in 1954 and now hangs at the entrance of the Commanding
"A, L. Barco, of Virginia Beach, was able to give me
valuable information about the two windmills in Princess
Anne County. Barco's father was Captain Bailey Barco,
who had charge of the life saving station located at Dam
Neck. As a small lad, Barco remembers the two windmills
painted by the unknown artist, for his father owned one
of them and David Malbon owned the other. Captain
Bailey Barco bought his windmill in 1880. It was very
old at that time and needed extensive repairs. Three or
four men worked for several months to put it back into
"The two mills at Dam Neck stood on either side of
the present road that leads into the Fleet Air Defense
Training Center. They were about 250 yards apart and
located some 300 yards from the ocean. There used to be
soil around them, a carpet of wild blue flowers bloomed
about the windmills in the summer, but shifting sand
dunes long ago covered the spot on which the old structures
"Barco thinks his father's mill was over a hundred
years old when it was rehabilitated in 1880. It had with-
stood many storms along the coast. The mill house was
of hand-hewn cypress clapboard, and the lumber had been
sawed with a whipsaw operated by slaves. The roof to
the mill was pointed and had four sides. It was covered
in old hand-made rounded cypress shingles called "shakes".
The mill room was about 20 feet square, it had a window
on two sides and a door on another side opened into a small
porch. This platform was on the opposite side from the
huge sails that turned in the wind. The mill room was
about 30 feet above the ground and steps led up to the
porch. The bags of grain were raised and the meal and
flour lowered from the platform by a block and fall. A
pedestal about three feet square supported the mill room.
The pedestal was capped with a brass collar, and a shaft
and axle made it possible to turn the whole building so
that the sails would be to the wind. One strong man could
rotate the mill house but usually there were helpers for
"After the old windmills were put into operation by
Captain Barco, they were used for 14 years until 1894
when" a very severe storm damaged them so badly they
were abandoned. Barco says there were two similar wind-
mills at Sandbridge, one called "The White Mill", and the
other, "The Black Mill", due to the colors they were
Fig. 9 Robertson's Windmill at Williamsburg is similar to the ones that
stood at Dam Neck before the turn of the century. This windmill stands
near the Governor's Palace and is still in operation.
painted. On the old Macon place there was another. Camp
Pendleton is where the Macon homestead was located.
"It is to my friend and advisor, Mrs. Claude Nimmo,
of Oceana, that I always go to verify information about
this section of the country and I knew that she would
remember the windmills just as Barco had. Mrs. Nimmo,
who is now 83 years old gave me her personal recollections
of the windmills along the coast.
"As a small child, Ella Brock Whitehurst (who is now
Mrs. Nimmo) went often with her uncle to carry corn and
wheat to be ground by Alfred Moore who operated Captain
Barco's mill at Dam Neck. As the little girl rode along in
the cart she passed through pine woods and over cause-
ways through the marsh. She remembers the beautiful
marshland that looked like green velvet and the water
lilies that bloomed in the creeks. The grass along the
causeway was kept well cut by the cattle that grazed
there for pasture. There were wild ponies, too. It was
three miles from her home near Nimmo Church to Dam
"In the cart were two bags of corn and one of wheat.
If there was a good southeast breeze off the ocean and the
sails of the windmills were turning, they could have the
grain ground while they waited. One bag would be made
into chicken feed, the other bag of corn into meal, and the
wheat ground for flour. During the time the miller worked
little Ella would play on the beach or climb the high stairs
to the mill room. It was the most exciting experience of
her childhood to be taken to the old windmills at Dam
"If there was not enough breeze to turn the mill, the
bags of grain were carefully labeled and left in the mill
room. People were very particular in those days and
wanted no grain ground for them except their own which
they had carefully prepared. The miller's toll for grinding
was one-fourth or one-fifth of the grain brought to the
mill. The grain left at the mill could be picked up on the
"Mrs. Nimmo says the old mills made a terrible noise
and shook all over as the sails turned and the millstones
vibrated as they were grinding. Clouds of dust filled the
mill house. If the wind was high, the little girl would have
to crawl up the stairs so that she would not be blown off.
After the wheat was ground and carried home, she would
help her grandmother sift it, making bran, whole wheat
flour, and finally, white flour, as the sifting continued. Her
grandmother made delicious brown and white bread and
griddle cakes from the flour milled along the Atlantic
"The old mills were built on a firm foundation of heavy
timbers sunk into the ground, piles of brick were put on
top of the foundation to steady the top-heavy building.
Strong timbers braced the pedestal. The arms of the wind-
mill were built with a ladder-like ribbing, and they barely
missed the ground when they turned. There were cover-
ings to these blades made of heavy canvas. The canvas
was furled up when the mill was not in operation. At
other times the amount of covering to the sails regulated
the speed of the turning of the windmill. Sometimes half
of the arms would be covered, sometimes all of them. A
hand brake on the main gear stopped the mill."
Mrs. Kyle continued her research on windmills, and on
July 1, 1954, published another article, with the following
"The mill had four sails or vanes that reached almost
to the ground and had a spread of 50 feet. The speed of the
turning of the millstone could be controlled by covering
the framework of the sails with cloth. The most remark-
able thing about the post type mills was that the whole
mill house could be turned on an axle so that the sails
faced the wind. There was a long pole attached to a wheel
on the ground, the stairway could be raised from the
ground, attached to this pole, and, by means of this wheel,
it was possible for two men to make the millhouse and the
sails turn in any direction."
She also states that Julian Carroll of Oceana owned the
land in Dam Neck and in 1912 discovered a millstone in the
sand near the beach.
There are other local residents who remember the mills,
as well as others along the shore. Mrs. Fentress, grandmother
of Mrs. Georgianna Allbert of the Industrial Relations Depart-
ment, NAS Oceana, used to work in one of the Dam Neck mills.
A courthouse deed records the transfer from David W. Carroll
to Bailey T. and Virginia Barco in 1886 of "one house and out
buildings near life saving station #3 and one half interest in
the windmill (it being all of the grantor's interest therein) in
Dam Neck, known as Moore's Mill, and 100 head of dunghill
fowls and their increase." © Mr. and Mrs. William H. Belanga
remember the mills and state that they were destroyed in the
1890's. A house was built on the site of the southern mill,
occupied by Nathan Munden and the Barnes family. There
are also reports of a windmill on the creek between the two
ponds, driven by water. The creek would be dammed to pro-
vide a head of water to turn the mill wheel. The last surviving
windmill in the area stood on Macon Road, to the north of
Dam Neck. It was destroyed by a storm in 1911.
The 1850's and 1860's were a period of severe storms on
the East Coast, causing many shipwrecks. In order to aid
victims of these shipwrecks, a Life Saving Service was started
in 1874, and in the following decade, life saving stations were
constructed along the coast. Stations were built at Cape Henry
and Dam Neck Mills. A "keeper's house" is believed to have
existed at Dam Neck Mills as far back as 1850. In 1878, the
Seatack Station was placed between these two at the present
24th Street at Virginia Beach. The property on which the Dam
Neck Station stood was purchased in 1881 from the State of
Virginia. ® The stations were numbered from north to south,
starting with Cape Henry. The Dam Neck Mills Station was
therefore number 3. The next station to the south was at
Little Island and is now a beach house at the far southern
end of Sandbridge. The original station, built about 1874, was
moved back from the ocean some time during the first 20 years
because the shore line receded, and the sand hills protecting it
were washed away. This building was used as the station until
it was replaced by a new one in 1898. The old station was pur-
chased by the Stormont family and used by families on vacation.
It was later converted for use as a fishing camp. The new Dam
Neck Mills Station stood where the officers' reserved beach
parking lot extension was made in the summer of 1968. The
plans for that station are on file at the Mariners' Museum at
Newport News, Virginia. There was also a half-way station at
Sandbridge where the patrolling surfman would rest and warm
himself and meet the patrolman from Little Island. (Figures
One of the early Keepers, as the Commanding Officer was
called, was Captain Bailey T. Barco. The epitaph on his grave-
stone at Eastern Shore Chapel cemetery in London Bridge pro-
vides an eloquent tribute to him. (Figure 10.)
Fig. 10 Captain Bailey IJarco's gravestone at the F^astern Shore Chapel
Cemetery, London Bridcre.
Vig. 11 Dam Neck Mills Life Saving Station when it was new in the
1890's, with Cai)tain Marco's crow: (left to rij^ht) Charles Barco, a car-
I)enler, William Parlridjje, another carpenter, William Carroll, Nathan
Muiulen, John Harnes, Jeff Hickman, John Carroll. Charles IJarco was
a substitute surfman for Joel Morrisette.
Fiji. 12 New and old Life Saving Stations. Old station (ri^ht) was
later sold to be used as an overnight cabin and still later, as a fishing
Tig. 13 Ca))tain Barco and crew relaxing at Life Saving Stati
-J . .,,,
..>. M.-^__. ,^
Fig. 14 Captain Woodhouse and crew of Dam Neck Mills Station: (left
to right), Leonard Morrisette, Johnny Jard, Buck Barnes, Luke Newbern,
Benjamin Malbon, Uoy V. Dudley, Captain James E. Woodhouse. Photo-
graph was taken just after a surfboat drill during the fall of 1918.
There are several dramatic accounts of rescues from ships
wrecked at the Dam Neck Mills Station during its existence.
Accounts of all which occurred until 1915 may be found at the
Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia, in the Annual
Reports of the Life Saving Service. These reports also include
incidents of minor assistance rendered. Summaries of some of
these reports made during Captain Barco's time follow:
On Tanuary 26, 1884, the three-masted schooner ALBERT
C. PAIGE grounded 21/2 miles north of the station and was a
total loss. All six personnel aboard were saved.
On October 31, 1887, the 214-ton schooner MARY D.
CRAMMER was wrecked 1% miles south of the station and
all personnel were saved.
Probably the most tragic story in the history of Dam Neck
Mills Station is the valiant attempt to rescue the crew of the
German ship ELISABETH. @ James E. Belanga of Dam Neck
Mills was patrolling the beach in a heavy snow storm during
the mid-watch on January 8, 1887. He and the surf man patrol-
ling from Little Island discovered a ship aground at Sand-
bridge, 4 miles south of the Dam Neck Mills Station (Latitude
36°44.6'N). It quickly settled on its side in the sand. Both
stations sent rescue teams to the scene. The 22-man crew of
the ship were discovered to be in a life boat in the water,
sheltered by the lee of the wreck. They could not attempt to
reach the shore because of a north-east gale and the surf which
it produced. The conventional rescue by breeches buoy could
not be carried out and the only means of rescue was to reach
them by boat. Abel Belanga, James' brother, was the Keeper
of the Little Island Station and in charge of the rescue. He
returned briefly to his station to pick up some equipment and
to his home for a bite of breakfast and remarked to his wife
how difficult it would be to reach the lifeboat. This was the
last time she saw him alive. Back at the scene of the wreck,
he launched the surfboat with a crew made up of his brother.
James, his brother-in-law, Joseph Spratley of Dam Neck Mills,
and four other Little Island surfmen. As the shipwrecked crew
was being transferred to the rescue boat, a wave overturned
both boats, throwing all 29 men into the sea. All except two
were drowned or died soon after from exposure. George W.
Stone and John H. Land were the two other Little Island surf-
men lost. The survivors were Little Island surfmen John
Ethridge and Frank Tedford, who was another brother-in-law
of the Belangas. Also mentioned as being present was "Ogelsby
the miller". In appreciation of the heroic actions of these men
who gave their lives, the German government gave funds to
their families. The German crew was given a Christian funeral
and buried at Norfolk. Abel and James Belanga and Joseph
Spratley are buried in a fenced section of the Tabernacle Church
Cemetery on Sandbridge Road. Abel's tombstone gives a brief
account of the tragedy. D. Gregory Claiborne Butts, the min-
ister of the Tabernacle Church on the road to Sandbridge de-
scribes this rescue in his book "From Saddle to City by Buggy,
Boat and Railway".
Mrs. W. H. Belanga, remembers these wrecks in which
her father. Captain Barco, participated. After one of these
rescues, one of their neighbors took a wagon to the beach to
take Captain Barco home. However, the surfmen insisted that
he walk home because he was so nearly frozen that had he
lelaxed in the wagon, he would probably have gone to sleep
and never awakened. She remembers that when he arrived
home, his scarf and hat were frozen to his face, and he could
not talk for a long time until he thawed out.
On March 14, 1888, the 400-ton brig AGNES BARTON,
carrying phosphate rock and ten men, grounded ^4. ^il^ north
of the station in a northeaster. Six of the men were lost be-
cause of difficulty in working the breeches buoy, which kept
fouling with rope, wreckage and "junk". The ship was heeled
so far on its side that the rescuers could not get the buoy
rigged high enough to stay clear of the water. The Captain
was washed out of the breeches buoy and lost. Finally, the
ship rolled on its masts, to which the remaining crew members
were clinging. This wreck is mentioned again in connection
with the construction of the chapel.
Fip. 15 Captain Henry Holmes and crew in front of Dam Neck Mills
Station: (left to ri^'it), Captain Holmes, Blackie (dog), Richard Melson,
Joe Kvans, Manninj? Gray, Charlie IJarco, Charlie Gray, Joe Owens, John
Joesy. The Station's number two man, Leonard Morrisette, is not-shown.
Crew is arranged in order of length of service.
Fig. 16 Captain Nelson Holmes and crew of Cape Henry Station. Nelson
Holmes was the father of Captain Henry Holmes of the Dam Neck Mills
Fig. 17 Captain Nelson Holmes instructs his Cape Henry Station crew
in life saving.
Fig. 18 Captain Henry Holmes and Joseph Evans at Dam Neck Mills
Fiff. 19 Coasf Guard Life Saving Station at Dam Neck was one of the
final remnants of history to vanish. The station was built sometime in
the 1890's and stood until 1958. In the background are the quarters of
the P\4AWTRACI<:\ Commandinir Officer.
FiK. 21 Seafack Life Savinc Station, 1895.
Fig. 20 A water color painting, owned by retired Navy Captain H. F.
Crist of Virginia Beach, depicts early Dam Neck Coast Guard Station in
winter. It was painted about 19;')4 by the wife of a Chief Petty Officer
stationed at Dam Neck.
On December 21, 1900, the schooner JENNIE HALL was
wrecked 2/7 mile northeast of the station in a 50-knot north-
east gale. Five of the eight men aboard were saved. In order
to rescue the last man, who was tied to the starboard crosstree
of the mast, Surfman John R. O'Neal rode to the ship by-
breeches buoy but returned for help. Then the surfboat was
put to sea in surf which was carrying wreckage 30 to 50 yards
above the high water mark. Captain Bailey Barco was at the
helm and his crew was O'Neal, Horatio Drink wat<^' (an ex-
surfman), W. H. Partridge, George W. Whitehurst and two
surfmen from the Seatack Station. The man was lowered into
the boat and saved.
Mrs. Belanga says that at the time of this wreck, Captain
Barco, her father, was sick in bed with the flu. He insisted
that he take part in the rescue. His exertions during this
night were such a strain on his heart that he never regained
his health, and he died the next year of heart failure.
In 1901, Lt. Col. Earl Woodhouse moved to Dam Neck
from North Carolina. Col. Woodhouse is now retired from the
U. S. Army and resides in Virginia Beach. When he moved to
Dam Neck, he was only 6 months old. His father. Captain
James Edmund Woodhouse, was the new Keeper of Dam Neck
Mills Life Saving Station, a position he retained until 1920.
Earl lived with his parents and seven brothers in a house one-
half mile north of the station, in the present pistol range area.
However, for two months of each summer, the surfmen as-
signed to the station would be laid off and the Woodhouse
family would move into the station house.
The station was manned by the Keeper and six or seven
surfmen. Those surfmen with families lived in their own homes
along the road which ran by the station close to the present
Regulus Avenue. The bachelors lived where the Training
Center Commanding Officer now lives. While on duty, the
surfmen remained in the station house where there were
Col. Woodhouse remembers that the remains of a ship
were left on the beach for many years while he was a boy.
Two wrecks occurred soon after the arrival of the Wood-
house family. One was the NELLIE W. HOWLETT, a coastal
schooner which grounded in October 1903, three miles south
of the station. All eight people aboard were rescued by
breeches buoy. The other was the HENRY B. HYDE, said to
have been the finest and fastest three-masted sailing ship built
in this country since the clipper ship days. (Figure 22.) All
13 people aboard were rescued. The ship remained v/here she
grounded 2i/o miles south of the station from February to Sep-
tember 1904 when an attempt was made to refloat her. How-
ever she ran aground again a quarter mile south of her former
l)osition and finally was abandoned after salvage of the cargo.
A detailed account of this wreck can be found in the Norfolk-
Virginian Pilot, July 4, 1954, and in the Reader's Digest.) The
nameplates of both these ships, nearly ten feet long, used to
be mounted on the wall of the station until it was torn down.
They cannot now be located. A 1905 survey shows these wrecks
located at Lat. 36°44.84'N and 36°45.50'N. ©
FiR. 22 The three-masted sailing ship HKXRY B. HYDE lies two miles
south of the old Dam Neck Station, where it grounded twice in 1904.
Note early model automobile in foreground.
When Earl was 15 years old, he used to substitute as a
surf man. This task included patrolling the beach halfway to
the next station when the visibility was low. At the halfway
point, a brass tag or colored flag was passed to the neighboring
patrol. This procedures insured that the patrols were actually
carried out. There was no school within commuting then; so
he was educated by a tutor for the first three grades. After
that he went to school in Oceana.
Captain Woodhouse was ill during the period from 1917
to 1920. During this time, his number one surfman, Roy
Dudley, became acting Keeper. Mr. Dudley lived in a house
which he built for his family just to the south or southeast of
the station house. Mr. Dudley now resides in Virginia Beach.
It was during this period that the Life Saving Service
ceased to exist as a separate service. The service had not re-
ceived the recognition and financial support it deserved, and
the members had not been given retirement and other benefits
enjoyed by the Armed Forces. In 1915, an act was passed
merging the Life Saving Service with the Revenue Cutter
Service and creating the U. S. Coast Guard. Dam Neck Mills
station became station #163 of the new Coast Guard. An
interesting history of the Life Saving Service and the merger
with the Cutter Service can be found in "The Compact History
of the United States Coast Guard" by Bloomfield.
The next Keeper of the station was Captain Charlie Capps,
now deceased. He was relieved by Captain Henry Nelson
Holmes about 1924.
Charlie Gray's house was located close to the present
Married Officer's Quarters farthest to the north. He worked
at the station from 1927 until 1939, through the transition
period from a life saving to a signal station. He resides now
at Virginia Beach. Captain Holmes was Keeper during the
1933 hurricane. The station was badly undermined and it
was necessary to put sheet piling into the foundation. The sea
came across the street to the Captain's home at the present
Commanding Officer's quarters, rose to the level of the porch.
and flooded his car in the garage. Col. Aubrey Holmes, his son,
was trying to drive his car home by the road from Camp
Pendleton. He was almost home before the engine quit; so
he spent the night in his car. Next morning, a few feet ahead
of him, he saw a river 8 feet deep and about 40 feet across
where Redwing Lake was overflowing back into the ocean.
After the storm, the surfmen closed this new inlet with logs
on which they bulldozed sand. This storm wiped out all the
fishing shacks from the beach and deposited them on the far
shore of Lake Tecumseh. The original life saving station also
was destroyed by this storm.
The U. S. Coast Guard signal station was moved to Dam
Neck from a building on 16th Street in Virginia Beach now
used as a telephone office. Ralph D. Fisher, a retired Coast
Guard Lieutenant Commander who owns a home on Old Dam
Neck Road, was stationed there as a Radioman 1/c in 1938
and 1939. The man in charge at that time was Chief Radioman
Kischassy who retired in California. The complement of the
station was six radiomen, three surfmen and one cook. The oc-
cupant of the Commanding Officer's house at that time was
Major Richard C. Coupland, U. S. Army, who was stationed at
Fort Story. Mr. Fisher remembers a severe hurricane in 1937,
which seriously damaged the station, tearing off the porch.
Chief Kischassy was relieved by C. C. Musick, now retired
and living in Ocean View. Chief Musick encountered problems
when the Navy anti-aircraft target sleeves dropped into his
antennas, where they became entangled. His assistant was
Mr. Rosser, son-in-law of Captain Holmes who was the former
Keeper of the station. The station suffered more hurricane
damage during his tour, almost losing the galley (a separate
The Coast Guard signal station continued to function at
Dam Neck until World War II when larger facilities were
needed. The station was then moved to Oceana and operated
out of the building now used by the Naval Air Station for
their horse stables. Problems developed when the Naval Air
Station expanded. The antennas caused a flight hazard. A
final move was then made to Pungo, where "Norfolk Radio"
The original transfer of land at Dam Neck Mills from the
State of Virginia to the U. S. Government stated that when
it was no longer needed by the Life Saving Service, it would
be returned to the State. Consequently, it was necessary to
negotiate another transfer })ack to the U. S. Government of
this property; this time to the Navy. That transfer took place
in 1951. In the meantime, the station was used as -. Bachelor
Officers' Quarters and Officers' Club, until replaced by the pre-
sent BOQ constructed 200 yards to the north the next year.
The Commanding Officer's quarters had been acquired earlier
in 1943, by the Navy as part of 60 acres extending west to
Dam Neck Road (Vanguard Street).
The Chapel by the Sea, (Figure 23), mentioned in Captain
Barco's epitaph, was a mission of the Eastern Shore Chapel.
The Eastern Shore Chapel has been the Episcopal Church for
this area for many centuries. It was formerly located on land
now used by the Naval Air Station, Oceana, It was moved
along with its cemetery in 1959 to its present location on
f jaskin Road in London Bridge. Louisa Venable Kyle, a member
of that church, is preparing its history. She provided the fol-
lowing information rogai'ding the Chapel by the Sea.
•'The first mission from Eastern Shore Chapel stood on
i,he Atlantic Ocean a short distance from the Life Saving
Station at Dam Neck. It was built during the summer of
"The families from Dam Neck and other stations often
attended Eastern Shore Chapel, coming to church in their high
two wheeled beach carts.
"The Rev. Mr. W. N, Savage, then minister for Emmanuel
Church, Kemi)sville and Eastern Shore Chapel was very in-
terested in the Life Saving Service families. They talked with
him about the building of a church on the beach that would
serve the families from the other stations along the coast as
well as Dam Neck but there were no funds available.
Fiji. 23 Chapel by the Sea, mission of the Episcopal Eastern Shore
Chapol. It stood near the Life Savinjj Station, serving its families for
many yeais until it was turned ovei- to the Church of Christ and St. Luke
as a recreation camp for children.
"During a bad storm the three masted barque named the
AGNES BARTON was blown ashore and wrecked in front of
che Dam Neck Station. In this ship wreck four men were
saved by the brave men of the Life Saving Service."
"It was decided to use the lumber from the ship to build a
"The congregation at Eastern Shore Chapel helped to
finance the project and the building was done by a man named
Boyenton under the supervision of Captain Bailey T. Barco,
who was in charge of the Dam Neck Station. Other men in
the Life Saving Service helped in the building.
"The Chapel by the Sea, as it was called, was similar to
Eastern Shore Chapel, having the same dimensions and similar
windows but was a frame rather than a brick building. Mr.
Savage was the Rector of this chapel and there were now three
active churches in the Lynnhaven Parish. Mr. Savage served
as rector for a total of fifteen years in the Parish. Besides
building the Chapel by the Sea, he restored Eastern Shore
Chapel, putting in the stained glass windows and doing much
to the interior.
"He organized the Church Aid Societies for the women
at each church and even edited a Parish newspaper called the
"After Mr. Savage left the Parish in 1902, the Rev. John
Wales, who was a Norfolk banker as well as a minister, came
out from Norfolk by train and conducted services at the two
chapels when there was no regular minister.
"By 1924, the Chapel by the Sea was no longer used as
a church, and Dr. Francis Steinmetz, the Rector of the Church
of Christ and St. Luke in Norfolk, bought the building for his
church. It was moved a short distance from the Life Saving
Station and was used as a summer camp for girls from that
"The Communion silver, Bible and some of the Altar
brasses became the property of the Eastern Shore Chapel and.
some of these are still in use at our Church." (Figure 24.)
The Bible and silver communion chalices mentioned by
Mrs. Kyle are inscribed with the date, July 7, 1884. The Bible
contains the following dediv.ation:
Fiff. 21 This Bible and Chalice set was used in the Chapel by the Sea.
They are now kept in the Eastern Shore Episcopal Chapel on Laskin
lload, Virpinia Beach.
Susie Eleanor Williams Gibson
AGED SIXTEEN YEARS SIX MONTHS
Charlotte Randolph Williams
AGED SIXTEEN YEARS THREE MONTHS
Went to God
from The Surf At Old Point Comfort
July 7th, 1884
The Norfolk Virginian of July 8, 1884 gives an account
of the tragic accident which inspired this inscription, in an
article entitled "A Sad Affair." The girls were cousins from
Richmond, visiting their aunt at Fort Monroe. They went
swimming and were carried away from shore by the current
and disappeared. The aunt and Susie's younger sister were
saved by a Dr. Hubbard of the Marine Hospital. The news-
paper gives the names of the two girls who were lost as Sue
E. Williams and Charlotte R. Gibson. There is no apparent
connection between the incident and Dam Neck, except through
This was five years before the chapel building was con-
structed. In 1884, the church met in the Life Saving Station
building. The land for the chapel was purchased in 1887 by
George Henley, Bailey Barco, Peter W. Morrisette, Joseph
Belanga and David W. Carroll.
The altar rail for the chapel was the mast of one of the
shipwrecks. One of the crew members saved his life by lashing
himself to it during the storm. The original location of the
chapel was to the northeast of the Commanding Officer's
quarters, probably where the BOQ parking lot is now located.
After being moved, it was to the south of the Life Saving
Station. Mr. Tyler, Dam Neck Transportation Supervisor, be-
lieves the church was destroyed by the hurricane of 1933.
As the commands at Dam Neck grow, more and more
people travel the single access road, until we frequently have
a waiting line of cars entering or leaving the Center during
rush hours. Until recently, there was no "back entrance" such
as most military bases have. On July 3, 1969 an alternate
access was constructed through Sandbridge, the adjacent area
which also had only one access. It is interesting to note that
in the past there have been numerous routes by which this
area could be reached, although these roads were crude. If
we are annoyed by a few minutes delay on Dam Neck Road
today, waiting for the traffic, we might remember that it took
many hours on the old roads and paths.
A glance at a road map reveals both a Dam Neck Road
and an Old Dam Neck Road. Old Dam Neck Road stops shortly
before reaching Navy propeily. Did this road ever extend all
the way to the beach? There is no visible trace now of any
such extension. The answer is that there was sucli an exten-
sion. In fact, there were two causeways across the marsh.
One causeway led directly from the end of Old Dam Neck
Road, between the farms of Henry and Peter Dyer across the
marsh. Another causeway a little to the north led from the
Avery farm, now owned by J. C. Kessler, across to where the
Administration Building is now located. This causeway is
shown as "Old Causeway" on several surveys dated back to
1906. '-"^ To the north of that was another causeway where the
new Dam Neck Road is. The western ends of these causeways
were connected by a path, which is now private and runs
through the farms there, along the west edge of the marsh.
The new Dam Neck Road was not always so straight as now.
Originally it followed the route of Old Dam Neck Road from
route 615 (Oceana Road). It then forked to the left following
the present Dwyer Road into Dam Neck Road, and followed
a route parallel to it but slightly to the north. A causeway
was built about 1924 on the new Dam Neck Road barely suit-
able for travel by automobile. It consisted of one lane only.
There was also a log bridge, known as the "Big Arch Bridge",
where the road crossed the creek just outside the present main
gate. Frequently the creek rose above the level of the cause-
way and it was then necessary to use another route.
Residents living in the vicinity of the Coast Guard Station
usually preferred to use any of several routes to the north.
The beach itself could be used at low tide. In the late 1920's
and 1930's, there were two other routes paralleling the beach.
One followed closely the route of the present 8-inch water line
behind the present married enlisted men's quarters and through
the center of the rifle range. The northern end of this route
ran through swampy land, but was the best one to use in dry
weather. If the road became too muddy, there was another
road closer to the beach which was drier. It passed a house
at the southeast corner of the present rifle range. This road
connected to the paved strip at the present boundary between
Dam Neck and Camp Pendleton. These roads connected to
Birdneck Road, formerly Macon Road, leading inland. A rail-
road used to run from Norfolk along Macon Road and swing
north through Camp Pendleton. Originally this was a steam-
driven train ; later electric.
To the south, these two roads ran one on each end of the
present pistol range. They joined before reaching the present
BOQ and continued along the present Regulus Avenue past a
school house and the homes of the members of the Life Saving
Service. It continued south to the present instruction and
computer building, #127, where a branch led west along the
path by the present steam line. This is the path now used by
students between the school and barracks 522. At barracks
522, there was another fork, one leading through the Admin-
istration Building 501 to the causeway, and another through
the mess hall (Building 521) and Raborn Hall (Building 586)
down Rainey Point to the clubhouse. Older maps show two
other routes across the woodland north of Lake Redwing to
Prosperity Road. The growth of the forest in this area indi-
cates that this area has not been developed for many years
. . . the southern of these roads was known as "Belanga Road".
The road passed just north of the Belanga house, ran parallel
to Lake Redwing about 200 yards to the north, and then west
to Prosperity Road.
Another road lay further to the north. It probably coin-
cides with the present two-lane path off Prosperity Road which
marks the boundary between the U. S. Government and the
State of Virginia property. The eastern end of this road can
be accurately located by a survey of 1892. © It was the bound-
ary between the land of Smith and Belanga and followed the
center of a lane marked by pine trees, running south 80 degrees
east, passing near the present magazine 318. That area is now
a tangle of briars and drainage ditches, but there are still many.
large pine trees there.
To the south, two routes are shown on old maps, one to
Sandbridge, and one to the south end of Lake Tecumseh. These
were extensions of present Regulus Avenue and Bullpup Street.
The old road near Bullpup Street passed on the southeast side
of the golf driving range and can still be seen. It continued to
the south and southwest to Sandbridge Road but was cut off
in the 1930's when the large ditch was dug just south of DASH.
These roads formed a circle around the ponds and marsh known
as Black Gut and Rainey's Pond.
These roads were probably well traveled in the days of the
windmills, when farmers from the surrounding area brought
their grain here to be made into flour.
In the past hundred years, since the closing of the inlet,
the most apparent geographical change in the area has been
the recession of the shoreline. In contrast, there has been little
change in the location of the lake shores, although there has
been a definite filling of these lakes. The digging of drainage
ditches and canals has also had important effects. But one
thing certain about the shoreline is that the recession has
definitely taken place. This is proven by the presence of tree
stumps, hundreds of years old, standing in the ocean and ex-
posed at low tide. Such sections of beach having stumjis of
dead trees emerging from the sand are known as "drowned
forests" and on some Virginia beaches may extend along the
beach up to a mile. Mr. Donald Swift, Associate Professor at
the Institute of Oceanography, Old Dominion University, Nor-
folk, Virginia, has done extensive research on Virginia's
"drowned forests." Since these tree stumps offer important
clues to the history of the Virginia coast, the following back-
ground information, gathered by Mr. Swift, is presented.
". . . To understand their genesis (drowned forests)
it is necessary to consider the last two million years of
the earth's history, known to geologists as the Pleistocene
Epoch or "the great ice age." During this period, the
earth's mean annual temperatures were reduced, so that
each winter more snow accumulated than would melt the
next summer. Finally, great ice caps, up to 3 miles thick,
developed over Northern Europe, the northern part of
North America, and Antarctica. Four times these ice caps
expanded and contracted, as the climate fluctuated. Each
time the ice caps expanded, sea level dropped because so
much of the earth's water was locked up in ice. During
the peak of the last ice expansion, about 19,000 years ago,
sea level was almost 400 feet lower than at present. If the
ancestors of the Indians were here then, they could have
walked over dry land across the exposed continental shelf
to the Ice Age shoreline, sixty miles seaward of our pre-
sent Virginia coast. There is evidence to indicate that
they did so, hunting the herds of mammoths (prehistoric
elephants) that grazed in the forests which are now
covered by the sea.
"As the last great ice caps contracted during the last
19,000 years, sea level rose, first at a rate of many feet
per century, then slowly at an inch or less per century.
The shoreline moved towards its present position rapidly
at first, and then slowly.
"When it advanced rapidly, the shoreline had little
chance to adjust itself to wave attack and shore currents.
During this period it was highly irregular, consisting of
estuaries, or drowned valleys, extending many miles in-
land, and prominent headlands, extending many miles out
to sea. However, as the rate of shoreline advance slowed,
the shoreline was able to adjust. Wave attack pushed back
the jutting headlands, and the masses of sand generated
by their erosion was washed southward by long-shore cur-
rents to form long spits of sand. In this manner the
sounds of North Carolina were cut off from the sea by
the Outer Banks. But the larger estuaries such as the
Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay were kept open
by virtue of the strong tides sweeping in and out of their
"However, even after the spits, banks and beaches
of modern times formed, the sea continued to advance
on the land. It was during this later period that the
"drowned forests" formed. To understand their forma-
tion, it is necessary to understand the geography and
growth of beaches. Under conditions of slowly rising sea
level, beaches tend to grow upward, keeping pace with sea
level rise. This is because sand washed in from the sea
floor gets deposited on the beach, then blows up on the
dunes. The dunes rise, and also move inland as a result
of this nourishment. Thus, a low, swampy area develops
behind the growing beach ridge as sea level rises, and the
beach ridge tends to move in over this swamp or marsh.
At the same time, storms chew away at the seaward edge
of the beach. Eventually, trees that were killed by the
advancing dunes reemerge as stumps at the foot of the
Scientists are greatly interested in these "drowned
forests," because it is possible to date them by means of the
radiocarbon technique, and thus determine the rate of shore-
line retreat and sea level rise. Stumps of this sort examined
on Virginia's eastern shore have been identified as live oak.
Some of the stumps on Dam Neck's beaches have been identi-
fied as cypress; cypress "knees" being clearly visible along-
side these stumps. (Figure 25.) A second test is to be made
on several Dam Neck stumps to determine their age. Dates
from stumps and salt marsh peat on eastern shore beaches are
as young as 200 years ago, indicating a rapid rate of beach
Kig. 25 Live oak tree stumps in the beach at low tide, proving the
recession of the shore line.
But actual measurement of movement of the shoreline is
less certain. The Norfolk District, Army Corns of Engineers
has recently conducted a study to compare the various surveys
conducted in the past showing location of the shore from Cape
Henry to the North Carolina line. The chart below shows the
average annual change in feet since the previous survey along
each section of beach. Minus indicates receding beach. The
15.8 mile point is the boundary between Dam Neck and Sand-
bridge. The northern Dam Neck boundary is at 19.0 miles.
Miles north of
North Carolina Line
15.8 - 16.9
16.9 - 18.1
18.1 - 19.3
As example of interpretation: Along the 1.1 mile section of
beach to the north of the boundary fence at Sandbridge, the
shoreline receded 20.6 feet per year average between 1905 and
1925. Since 1939, there is no survey data for the Dam Neck
Beach, but data to the north and south indicates a small amount
of recession at the rate of about one to three feet per year. The
figures indicate that overall there has been more recession here
and at Sandbridge than at Virginia Beach to the north or False
Cape to the south. However, Mr. L. Cherry who provided this
data warns that this data is not very accurate, particularly the
old surveys, and one should not draw too many conclusions
from them. There was little interest in accurate measurements
of the beach 60 and 100 years ago. Furthermore, the shore
constantly changes with the seasons and storms. Normally
a storm will wash the sand from the beach, but in the follow-
ing months it will return.
There are other indications of beach erosion. As previously
noted, the original life saving station had to be moved away
from the ocean. Local residents agree that erosion has taken
place, but cannot say accurately how far. Land surveys also
show a change. A note on the Navy survey of May 6, 1942,
Public Works drawing 5770, entitled "Physical Survey Proposed
Rifle Range, South Virginia Beach," tells the conclusion of
these surveyors: "The deeds and other records investigated
were recorded around 1880 . . . There is considerable evidence
that the beach has eroded to a great extent since the time the
deeds were recorded. The natives who have spent their lives in
this vicinity bear witness to the fact that this erosion has oc-
curred." The drawings also indicates several decreases in the
area of the Coast Guard station land. Comparison of maps and
aerial photographs since 1937 show no noticeable change in
shoreline position since then.
The shoreline of Lake Tecumseh (formerly Salt Pond) has
been used as a boundary line for many years and its position
can therefore be compared through the years. This boundary
line is still the present border for the Navy property and is
still very close to the lake shore when the water is at its
highest level. Actually, the position of the lake shore is a
function of the outlet at the south end of the lake and can be
returned to its original position by damming this drain. Inci-
dentally, Lake Tecumseh is entirely the property of the State
of Virginia, whereas Lake Redwing is divided between the
owners of the land on its shore. There is probably some his-
torical significance to this difference in ownership. Perhaps
it is another indication that Lake Tecumseh was at one time
connected to the ocean. There is also little evidence of change
in the shape and size of Redwing or Fresh Pond for at least
130 years, although it is more difficult to know because pro-
perty boundaries have not been drawn along its edge but its
center. Comparison of an aerial photograph of 1937 with pre-
sent conditions shows only one change other than the fact that
the lakes were slightly larger. A small lake about 600 feet
long is shown along the creek just north of the present main
gate. The formerly large size of Lake Redwing can also be
seen in a photograph of the Morrisette property on that lake.
A similar indication is given by the C & OS map of 1918 in
which the lake continues without a break almost to Dam Neck
More significant is the change in depth of the lakes. Resi-
dents claim that 30 years ago they were five to six feet deep and
40 years ago were eight to ten feet deep. These are only esti-
mates. There were sailboats and motor boats on the ponds in
those days, although in some places, one could wade across. One
way of measuring the fill is by the depth of the mud. The bot-
tom used to be sand and the water so clear the fish could be seen.
There were also pond lilies here, like those in the creek crossing
Sandbridge Road. Lotus flowers, now found only in the creek by
the Tabernacle Church near Sandbridge, used to fill the Fresh
Pond (Lake Redwing). The mud has come from the dredging
started in the 1930's. That is when drainage ditches were dug
throughout the marshes and adjacent higher land. Mud from
these ditches has been carried down into the ponds. However,
even measuring the mud would not give the total amount of
fill since much of it has also come from the sand blown inland
from the dunes. By the 1940's, the lakes had become shallow.
They were then filled with marsh grass. The best way to cross
was by boat propelled by a pole, rather than oars.
This history should also include plans which were made
for this area although they were not fulfilled. In the 1920's
most of the land was purchased by the South Virginia Beach
Corporations and divided into hundreds of lots about 100 by
30 feet in size. The "Robinson Island" area south to the Sand-
bridge line was to be "Tecumseh Beach". It was at this time
that the ponds lost their unimaginative names of "Fresh Pond
and Salt Pond" and became Lakes "Redwing and Tecumseh".
There was to be a hotel at Tecumseh Beach, at the north end
of the present DASH Helicopter operating apron. Directly be-
hind, on the lake, where there is now a small cove, was to be
a boat harbor and landing. To the north of Lake Redwing,
more development was planned. This was to be South Virginia
Beach along the lake and north as far as the present rifle range,
extending for a mile into the woods. Beyond that to the north,
the remainder of the land now owned by the Navy was to be
Ocean Cove. ® Some of the lots were sold but not enough to
make the enterprise pay. When the depression came, the cor-
poration became bankrupt. Farther north, plans for Brighton
Beach progressed to the point of paving "Virginia Avenue".
The pavement still extends parallel to the beach, south to the
Dam Neck boundary fence.
II - THE NAVY TRAINING CENTER AT DAM NECK
When the United States Navy adopted the Oerlikon 20
MM, and Bofors 40 MM machine guns, an urgent need im-
mediately developed for indoctrination training on these new
weapons for personnel of the fleet. In anticipation of this need,
Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet Readiness, established a train-
ing center at Dam Neck, near Virginia Beach, Virginia,
Lt. Philip D. Gallery, who was serving on a Pacific Fleet
Destroyer, received orders to report to the "Anti-Aircraft
Range, Norfolk", on November 6, 1941. In accordance with his
orders, Lt. Gallery proceeded to COMFIVE and requested in-
formation as to the location of his new duty station. No one
was able to enlighten him. After some investigation Lt. Gallery
discovered that District Public Works was in the process of
constructing two small frame buildings near a Coast Guard
Station about five miles south of Virginia Beach on the Atlantic
Ocean. This was the beginning of the Anti-Aircraft Range,
Norfolk. In November, four Gunners Mates reported to Lt.
Gallery. These men comprised his training staff, along with
Mrs. Gallery who contributed her services as Yeoman.
Initial construction was completed on November 29, 1941.
The firing line as completed at that time consisted of one
1.10/75 cal. quad mount, four 20 MM machine guns, and six
.50 cal. Browning mounts, of which four mounted .30 cal.
machine guns. There were in addition to the firing line, one
control tower, one magazine, one office, and one shop. There
were no quarters or messing facilities.
The first instructors were Armed Guard personnel on tem-
porary loan from Little Creek, Virginia. These men were per-
mitted to follow a very elastic schedule as to what they would
teach on a particular gun. The training given was operational
in nature, with emphasis upon firing. The training in break-
down, nomenclature and assembly was cramped by the lack of
shop space and by the large number of trainees assigned to
each instructor. The firing was sharply limited by a shortage
of ammunition, but, nevertheless, all personnel did receive in-
struction in breakdown and assembly and did fire the mount
to which assigned. The training consisted of firing at a towed
sleeve. The chief volume of instruction was in the .30 cal.
machine gun. In the month of December 1941, seven hundred
fifty men and fifty officers received training.
Training in the month of January 1942, had increased to
approximately 100 officers and 1,000 men. Of these, 40 officers
and 500 men were trained in the firing of the 20 MM machine
gun. Work was in progress on barracks, mess hall and class-
room. Twenty-four petty officers had been selected from the
Armed Guard School, Little Creek, Virginia, for assignment to
Dam Neck as instructors. The first officers received training
with the prospect that they would be assigned to the task of
establishing additional anti-aircraft training centers.
At this time the mission of the Anti-Aircraft Training and
Test Center was, "to provide training and experience in anti-
aircraft firing for ship board crews".
On April 4, 1942 the activity was commissioned with Lt.
Gallery as Commanding Officer. The first barracks building,
a mess hall, and early classrooms were completed. The original
staff consisted of two officers and approximately forty enlisted
men. The firing line was increased by one 3"/50 cal. dual pur-
pose gun, on which the principal trainees were Armed. Guard
personnel. In that month approximately 3,500 men and 250
officers received training.
Lt. Gallery solicited trainees from ships at the Norfolk
Naval Shipyard and at the Naval Base Piers, Enormous in-
terest in the center developed immediately after the assault
on Pearl Harbor, and plans were made to establish many other
similar activities throughout the nation.
On April 1, 1943, C. O. Training Command, Atlantic, as-
sumed operational control of the activity. Prior to this date,
the activity had trained 7,836 officers and 73,125 enlisted men.
Twenty buildings were in use, along with two rows of Quonset
huts. (Map 11.) Some of these original buildings still remain-
ing are 115, now Special Services, then Administration; and
113 now the CPO Club, then one of two barracks. Construction
continued with two buildings used for training in visual ma-
chine gun tracking of targets. These buildings are 116, now
a warehouse, and 118, now a 3'V50 loading shed. A moving
picture of an aircraft target was projected onto the far wall
and used as an aiming point for the trainees. An innovation
was two tilting platforms on the gun line, which simulated the
pitch and roll of a ship.
The rate of training accelerated, reaching its peak in May
1944, with a training load for that month of 18,500 men and
1,600 officers. The totals trained under COTCLANT to June 1.
1945, were 29 8'26 officers and 327,965 men. Firing practice was
carried on daily from 9 a.m. to 12 midnight. At times there
were as many as 1,500 men being trained on the gun line at
the same time.
In May 1943, two large areas of land were transferred to
the Navy, nearly doubling the size of the Center. (Map 10.)
The original property acquisition in October 1941 consisted of
all the land south of Dam Neck Road. The new areas consisted
of the residential area from Dam Neck Road to the Coast Guard
Station and the large area to the north procured for a "Fifth
Naval District Rifle and Pistol Range". Previously the pistol
range had been in the present golf driving range area. The
Rifle Range was established as another component of theAnti-
Aircraft Training and Test Center, Instructors were furnished
by the Marine Barracks at Norfolk, an arrangement which has
continued to the present time.
By 1944 LT Gallery had been promoted to the rank of
Commander and was awarded the Legion of Merit for his in-
itiative and service at the Anti-Aircraft Range. In January of
1944, he was relieved by CDR William J. Richter and went on
to become Commanding Officer of the USS PITTSBURGH
during the Korean conflict and retired as a Rear Admiral.
The original title included the function "test" as well as
"training". The command was divided into a training unit and
a testing unit, both operating in the same general area. The
testing headquarters was the present building 101 (now used
by Public Works for maintenance and stowage). This building
was surrounded by a fence. The function was to test new gun-
nery and fire control equipment being evaluated by the Bureau
of Ordnance in order that the Navy could decide whether to
purchase it for the fleet. Company representatives would come
here and remain for long i)eriods of time, instruct the Navy
personnel how to operate the equipment and try to convince
the Navy to accept it. New fire control computers were tested
here. The test unit had an officer-in-charge, who was respon-
sible to the Commanding Officer.
There was much other activity here during the war, but
little record of it remains. Equipment was set up for detection
of enemy submarines operating ofl^ the coast. A Carrier Avia-
tion Training Unit operated at the far south of the center at
building 448, now used by the DASH Training Unit. This unit
was surrounded by a fence, and also included a second school
building 443 in front of 448. Across the street were a bar-
racks, a dispensary and a mess hall. The foundations of those
buildings can be seen there now.
The Navy and the Coast Guard were not the only services
at Dam Neck during the war. In 1942 and 1943 the 90MM
artillery batteries at Fort Story were set up to be used against
aircraft as well as surface target. This was part of the coastal
defense system. It was therefore necessary to set up a base and
station several miles down the coast. Mr. Harold Heischober,
now President of Hilltop Volkswagen agency, was the artillery
officer in 1942 and 1943 who was in charge of the battery using
this station. The station was used to observe anti-aircraft fire
and provide spotting corrections to the battery at Fort Story.
The firing line was not confined to the area in the vicinity
of the large mounts. A machine gun range operated along the
seaward side of Regulus Avenue, where there is a raised road
paralleling the main road to the south of the present building
127. There was another machine gun range beyond this, using
an interesting idea for providing a moving target. There was
a rail running on the seaward side of the dunes. A car moved
along the beach on this rail. The gunners would fire at it as it
became visible between the dunes. The track looped around to
a garage located between the present VC-6 building and Dove
FIr. 26 The "gun line" at Dam Neck is the site of the Navy's only shore base live
Street. It was repaired there between firings and used again.
The end of the rail can be seen in the foundation where the
Operational training has continued on all weapons, and as newer
systems have been introduced to the fleet, they have been added to
the curriculum. By gradual growth, the firing line, (Fig. 26)
exclusive of the Bureau of Ordnance firing line, had expanded to
comprise in 1946: four 5"/38 open mounts, three 3"/50 mounts, one
40 MM quad mount, six 40 MM twin mounts, one 40 MM single
Navy type, ten 40 MM single Army type, one 1.10/75 quad mount,
eleven 20 MM twin mounts, twenty-five 20 MM single mounts, one
Mark 102 rocket launcher, and one 4.2 mortar. Directors in 1946
included four Mark 51 Mod 2, one Mark 51 Mod 3, one Mark 52
Mod 2, one Mark 52 Mod 3, one Mark 57 gun fire control system
and two Mark 63 gun fire control systems. The present gun line con-
sists of two 5"/54 mounts, Mark 42 and Mark 45; four 3"/50
mounts; one 5"/38 mount and one Rapid Blooming Offboard Chaff
(RBOC) launcher. The five directors which are in use on the line are
three Mark 56, one Mark 68 and one Mark 37. Of the World War II
veteran mounts, only 5"/38 mount 53 is still in use. The 5"/38 open
mount displayed at the main gate until June 1969 was an original
mount installed on the gun line in 1942. It has found its final resting
place at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard Museum. The original mount
51, a 5"/38 twin mount, had established a record when it was
removed in 1961. It had fired 70,000 rounds during its life, amount-
ing to some 3,850,000 pounds of projectiles and 1 ,050,000 pounds of
During World War II, more shipwrecks occurred off the Vir-
ginia Beach coast. One is marked by a quick flashing red buoy located
9 miles due east of the drone launching pad, and labeled ''Dam Neck
Wreck Lighted Bell Buoy'\ The 5700 ton U.S. tanker TIGER was
torpedoed and sunk there by a submarine on April 3, 1942, with
64,000 barrels of Navy fuel oil aboard.®
After World War II the fate of the center was in question for
several years. All of the anti-aircraft training centers in the U.S.
were closing, but somehow Dam Neck survived. Between the years
1945-1949, the center rested uneasily in a stagnant period expecting
each year to be her last. A Fire Department was established at the
center in March of 1947 giving hope to the staff that the command
would not be decommissioned.
Between the years 1947-1949 radar training was initiated to the
program on a very modest scale. This attention to radar is reflected in
the revised mission of the Center in 1949. As stated, the mission of
the Center was, "To train shipboard personnel to detect aircraft by
long range radar and to annihilate the enemy by means of gun fire".
During these years, the command also had two changes in title. The
first, in 1947, dropped the test task, and the title became: "Anti-Air-
craft Training Center". The next year, it was broadened to become:
"Fleet Air Defense Training Center".
The late Admiral Forrest P. Sherman was the impetus behind
the program to establish an "Air Defense Training Center" at Dam
Neck. Admiral Sherman served as Commander Sixth Fleet during
World War II and was familiar with the need for air defense training
on a scale far beyond the current concepts. He was a leading expo-
nent of improvement of anti-aircraft training techniques. Admiral
Sherman became Chief of Naval Operations in December of 1949.
Shortly thereafter, the Navy Department funded an expansion pro-
gram at Dam Neck that ran upwards of 20 million dollars between
the years 1950-1955. This building boom meant that a new idea in
shore based training activities had been born. The first Fleet Air
Defense Training Center was growing out of the marshlands south of
The first phase was completed by 1952 and provided the mess
hall, Administration Building (Figure 27), six barracks (507-517),
the Gunnery and CIC Gunnery Instruction Buildings, Operations
Building 127 and utilities. The barracks were sorely needed by this
time, because at times it was necessary to house the overflow stu-
dents in tents.
As the physical plant changed, the mission of Dam Neck was
again revised to kee' oace with the rapidly changing center. The 1952
mission was, "To provide shore based training for fleet units in all
phases of defense against an air attack"
Evidence of the growing interest in the Fleet Air Defense Train-
ing Center was shown by the visits paid to Dam Neck by high ranking
civic and military officials. In December of 1952 the Mayor of Vir-
ginia Beach and the City Council toured the Center. ADM McCor-
mick, Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Atlantic Fleet visited Dam Neck
in April of 1953. In May of this same year, CAPT Luea Goretti, Ital-
Fig. 27 Aerial view of Administration building. Building 501 houses the training
Center Executive Office and the Administrative Department as well as a detach-
ment of the personnel Support Activity, Norfolk, which supplies personnel support
services to all the commands aboard the center.
ian Naval Attache, visited Dam Neck, and in April of 1954 ADM
Sadik Altincan, Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish Navy, visited
the Center. These last two visits marked the beginning of the post-
war foreign training program in which Dam Neck became involved.
In 1952, the Commanding Officer's house was built. The old
house was completely torn down as its wood was rotting and it had no
foundation. The new house was constructed by Dam Neck
employees with only $10,000, much ingenuity and hard work.
The second phase of the building program ended in July 1954
with the Public Works Maintenance Building 526, Security Building
and Gate House, additional barracks. Dispensary, the BOQ with its
first 40 rooms, and the Recreation Building. (Map 13.) The Bowling
Alley had been moved several times but for most of the early years
had been at the northeast corner of Regulus Avenue and Vanguard
Street. The most expensive item in the building program was the
Operations Building, in which is housed the RS-12 radar target
simulator and mock-ups of combat information centers for every
type of combatant ship.
It is interesting to note the changes in functions of the old build-
ings at Dam Neck. As new buildings have gone up, the old ones in
many cases have been converted for other uses. The Boatswain's
Locker (110) was originally a shop, and later a gymnasium. Instruc-
tion Building 107 was once the Fire House. Warehouse 419 was a
Metal Shop. The shop used by the VC-6 Detachment for maintenance
of the drones was the Armory. The Incinerator (184) was the Heat-
ing Plant. The small building behind the Commanding Officer's
quarters was moved there from the DASH area. The Transportation
Center was formerly located at the old garage, previously mentioned
in connection with the machine gun target which was mounted on
the rail. That building lost its roof in a hurricane about 1954.
The most commonly used target originally used by the Air
Defense Training Center was the towed sleeve. This was not always a
safe procedure because sometimes the automatic tracking radar
would track the tow line instead of the sleeve and work its way up the
line toward the towing aircraft. This system was replaced by the
remote controlled or drone aircraft. Utility Squadron SIX was com-
missioned at Norfolk in 1952 and soon afterwards, established a
detachment at Dam Neck to train officer controllers in operating
these drones and to provide targets for gunners at Dam Neck. This is
the same detachment which is now called ''Fleet Composite
Squadron Detachment, Dam Neck'' or VC-6 Detachment. The unit
also taught operation of the DASH or Drone Anti-Submarine Heli-
copter. The first DASH flight at Dam Neck took place on December
3, 1952 when the DASH Unit became operational under LCDR
W. C. Thomas, Officer-in-Charge of VC-6 Detachment. Later, the
training of DASH controllers was transferred to the Destroyer Force,
and the DASH Training Unit was commissioned at Dam Neck under
the command of LCDR E. H. Crudup. He was relieved by LCDR
R. P. Multer on July 26, 1966. Maintenance training remained the
responsibility of COMNAVAIRLANT and the Naval Air Mainte-
nance Training Detachment was set up at Dam Neck for this
During the years 1955, 1956, and 1957, the center concentrated
on expanding and improving the courses available to fleet units in
both CIC and Gunnery. As more equipment was added, the number
of courses increased, until by late 1957, FADTC offered over 30
courses in gunnery and 7 courses in CIC. The Naval Establishment
began to recognize that Dam Neck was a leader in the field of ship-
board air defense. Commander Second Fleet began holding pre-sail
conferences for his upcoming exercises at FADTC to ensure that the
best possible air defense assistance available would be given to his
ships. The annual number of students attending courses climbed
rapidly at this time until by 1958 it reached a peak of about 2,000 of-
ficers and 20,000 enlisted men.
During 1958, approval was requested and received from the
Secretary of the Navy to name the hitherto unnamed streets of the
Fleet Air Defense Training Center. All streets have now been
named, and in keeping with its anticipated future developments, all
streets were named after naval missiles.
On April 30, 1958, the mission of FADTC was further changed,
"To provide operational training in all aspects of naval air defense,
excluding guided missiles and associated equipment, but including
coordinated task group air defense at both ship and staff level and
guided missile tactics as a part thereof, using training devices, actual
aircraft intercepts, and AA gunfire; to evaluate air defense tactics; to
provide team training and, when required, operational maintenance
training to CIC and gunnery equipments; to provide air intercept
practice for fighter pilots of air groups temporarily based ashore in
the Norfolk area; to provide logistic support for the Naval Guided
Missile School; to provide small arms and mortar range facilities for
area Naval and Marine Commands; to contact radar surveillance in
connection with Continental Air Defense and hurricane tracking;
and as specifically directed, to provide support for Commander-in-
Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in emergencies". The task included in this
mission of providing mortar range facilities gives a clue to another
activity which is part of Dam Neck history. The mortar range was set
up to fire from positions just to the south of training building 127.
The mortar rounds were fired to the south, landing in the swamp
which is now being filled by the dump.
Fig. 28 The recreation beach area be-
tween the gun line and the BOQ was
among the hardest hit by the storm.
Expansion and development continued during the following
years as guided missies received more and more attention. The
Guided Missile School Annex and Polaris launch pad were com-
pleted in 1960. Also, Commander Training Force, U.S. Atlantic
Fleet saw the need of additional fleet training in operating these new
weapons systems. In May 1960, he ordered the formation of missile
weapons system training teams at Dam Neck. They were organized
to augment the shore based training received by newly formed crews
of guided missle ships with pre-commissioning training in the
shipyard and to provide operational team training at sea after com-
missioning. Seventeen such ships received this training during 1960
and 1961 by the new Missile Weapons Systems Training Unit which,
starting with November 1960, operated as a part of COMTRALANT
staff. In October 1962, the unit was organized as a separate unit,
under CDR N. E. White.
Storms and hurricanes continued to compete with man's efforts
to build along the beach. The most destructive storm since the Navy
arrived at Dam Neck was the Ash Wednesday storm of March 1962.
(Figure 28 & 29.) Most of the natural dunes had been cut away
because of construction near the beach, the need for access to the
beach for recreational purposes and the desire to have a view of the
beach, from the clubs and homes behind the dunes. In this storm,
the tide rose so high, pushed by a strong northeast wind, that it
washed across the dunes in three places: south of the BOQ, near the
Lido Club, and south of the drone launch pad. The Commanding Of-
ficer's garage was undermined and the electric lines to the gun line
and Training Building 127 were shorted. This catastrophe was
followed by an intensive program to build dunes. Snow fences were
put up. Sand was bulldozed onto any scrap material which happened
to be available, and grass was planted on the dunes.
The mission of FAAWTRACEN broadened along with the
development of new weapons systems in the fleet. CIC training had
been started, being an important part of fleet anti-air warfare.
On September 9, 1960, the command became ''Fleet Anti-Air
Warfare Training Center, Dam Neck". In 1961 the last three of the
110-man barracks were completed to keep pace with the increasing
number of trainees. Recreational facilities were improved with the
opening of the refurnished Dorf Lorelei in 1962, the Lido Club in
Fig. 29 The gunline shows the
destruction caused by the Ash Wednes-
the spring of 1963, and the bath house in 1964. The increasing
importance of the contribution of civil service employees was
reflected when the American Federation of Government Employees
Union was granted exclusive recognition at Dam Neck. In 1964, the
first of the two 660-man barracks was opened and Raborn Hall was
dedicated, to be used for training Polaris technicians. The first NTDS
Air Intercept Control course graduated in December 1964. The
USO-20 NTDS Unit computer and much new electronics training
equipment was installed in 1965. In that year, the dispensary was
enlarged, with the addition of four new dental operating rooms. Fif-
teen married officers' quarters were completed and the married
enlisted quarters air conditioned. In 1966, Supply and Comptroller
functions were consolidated in the new building 559. In 1967, con-
struction of the Combat Direction Annex (T AC-DEW) was started
and the Navy Exchange Building was enlarged. (Map 14.) The 25th
Anniversary of Dam Neck was celebrated in June 1967. In 1968,
progress continued. Ground breaking ceremonies for the new
Poseidon Training Building for the Guided Missiles School were
conducted. (Map 15.) Beach facilities were improved. Instruction in
machine guns and 20MM operation were resumed. Courses for pro-
grammer instruction were expanded in scope.
The six-acre Sadler Lake was completed during 1969, as was the
twelve lane bowling alley. Both the lake and the bowling alley are
intended to become part of a community center which will addi-
tionally house a library, chapel, gymnasium, theater and many more
community facilities. A recreational park, with picnic areas and play-
ing fields was completed in 1970 in the area just north of Talos
Street, between Terrier and Regulus Avenues. In late 1970, the
TACDEW building, later named Taylor Hall after the father of
radar, was completed. Numerous improvements and additions were
made to the clubs, swimming pools and beaches during the next six
The center became "Fleet Combat Direction Systems Training
Center, Atlantic" in 1972 with a new mission of providing training in
the operation and employment of specified tactical combat direction
and control systems in naval warfare and to support operational com-
manders in the evaluation, development and analysis of naval war-
fare doctrines and tactics. During the Bicentennial Year, the base was
designated as an official Bicentennial Command as a result of the
extensive history of the area on which the base is located. The first
Commanding Officer of the base was honored on May 7, 1976 when
the newest Tactical Instruction building was dedicated. Gallery Hall
houses the Curriculum Instructional Standards Office as well as the
Tactics and Doctrine classrooms and Weapons Systems spaces. On 5
November 1976 the Tactical Support Center was dedicated as Cham-
berlain Hall in memory of LTJG William Chamberlain, a patrol
aircraft pilot who lost his life during a World War II attack on a Ger-
man submarine. On November 16, 1976 the center adopted its cur-
rent name, ''Fleet Combat Training Center, Atlantic'', retaining its
mission, but eliminating some verbage. A three story, 5 million dol-
lar Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, named in honor of a recent Com-
manding Officer of the Guided Missiles School, Captain William
Herndon, was dedicated in January of 1978.
Plans for development include the installation of the Tomahawk
Weapons System and the 8"/55 Major Caliber Lightweight Gun. In
addition, current plans call for the construction of a new Target
Ground Control Station for more adequate control and coordination
of multiple airborne drone targets, and an Energy Monitoring and
Control Station to reduce and control the consumption of energy in
the buildings, systems, and equipment onboard the command. A
multi-million dollar project to modernize and rehabilitate the exist-
ing Bachelor Enlisted Quarters has begun and is expected to provide
much more adequate housing for bachelor enlisted personnel.
This is a 1958 photograph of the DASH area, where the Guided Missiles School
started. During World War II, these buildings were used by the Carrier Aviation
NAVAL GUIDED MISSILES SCHOOL HISTORY
The Naval Guided Missiles School was established by the Secre-
tary of the Navy in June 1952, "To provide instruction in the opera-
tion, maintenance, and repair of ship-launched guided missiles (Sur-
face and Submarine) and associated missile equipment to selected
The School was initially set up in a group of ten World War II
temporary buildings about two miles south of the main gate of Fleet
Air Defense Training Center, Dam Neck on the shores of Lake
Tecumseh. The buildings were enclosed by a hurricane type fence
for security reasons. At the time of establishment, the school was
intended for instruction of fleet personnel in operation and mainte-
nance of the Regulus Missile. The entire school, both students and
• instructors, consisted of fewer than one hundred people.
By May 1958 Building 543, the present-day main school build-
ing, was officially opened. In the early sixties, two additional build-
ings (part of 572 and 586) were constructed to meet the increasing
demands for training space. By this time, training encompassed the
Tartar, Terrier, Talos, and Polaris missile systems.
May 1967 marked the beginning of an additional wing for Build-
ing 572 (NAVGMSCOL Annex) and in early 1968 ground was
broken for the additions to Building 586 (Raborn Hall) to incorpor-
ate FBM training for the Poseidon Missile System. Also, in Decem-
ber 1968, the Talos Program was phased out and the Polaris Program
was being converted for Poseidon training.
In February 1972, the command and support responsibility for
the Naval Guided Missiles School was transferred from Chief of
Naval Personnel to Chief of Naval Technical Training.
Today the Naval Guided Missiles School mission is "to provide
basic and advanced electronics instruction for fleet ballistic missile
personnel and to provide general and detailed instruction for officer
and enlisted personnel in the operation, maintenance, and repair of
fleet surface-to-air guided missile systems and fleet ballistic missile
systems." This mission is carried out through three school depart-
ments. The Polaris/Poseidon Electronics "A" School focuses on the
initial training for enlisted personnel in the Poseidon, Trident, and
Polaris weapons and navigation systems. All officers and enlisted
men involved in operating and maintaining the weapons and naviga-
tion systems aboard our fleet ballistic missile submarines receive
their initial training in the Fleet Ballistic Missile Department. The
Surface Missile Systems Department conducts officer and enlisted
courses in the NATO SEASPARROW, Tartar, and Terrier Missile
In addition to the growing training demands for our U. S. Naval
Forces, the school has expanded its training to include allied stu-
dents from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Nether-
lands, and Spain in the Tartar, Terrier, and NATO SEASPARROW
missile systems. The industrial engineers who support the foreign
guided missile ships in their home countries are also trained here to
service the 32 foreign ships equipped with these surface missile
The staff has grown to an allowance of about 44 officers, 545
enlisted, and 38 civilians.
FLEET COMBAT DIRECTION SYSTEMS
SUPPORT ACTIVITY, DAM NECK
During the period 1958-1961, the U.S. Navy completed its
initial development of the Naval Tactical Data Systems (NTDS). In
late 1961, the first shipboard NTDS installations were placed in
operational use aboard the USS ORINSKANY, USS KING, and USS
Initially, the thrust of NTDS was to provide a ship's CIC with a
digital computer program to assist in surface and air tracking, air con-
trol, and threat evaluation. With the advent of improved sensors,
more advanced weapon systems, and computerized fire control
systems, NTDS has evolved into a shipboard Command and Control
System. The digital computers which are the heart of the NTDS have
become the bonding agent through which modern shipboard Com-
mand and Control is achieved.
On June 15, 1962 the Fleet Computer Programming Center,
Atlantic (FCPCLANT) was established (for development purposes)
with a primary mission to develop and maintain NTDS computer
programs for Atlantic Fleet ships having an NTDS capability. On
March 1, 1963, FCPCLANT was formally commissioned as a fourth
echelon shore activity under COMTRALANT with the Command-
ing Officer, Fleet Antiair Warfare Training Center, Atlantic
(FAAWTCLANT) given additional duties as Commanding Officer,
FCPCLANT. Captain M. E. Wall, who had been tasked with estab-
lishing the initial organization, remained on board as the first Direc-
tor of Programming for FCPCLANT. Slightly in advance of these
actions, a sister activity had been established on the west coast with a
parallel chain of command and colocated with FAAWTCPAC. The
primary mission of FCPCPAC was to develop and maintain NTDS
computer programs for Pacific Fleet NTDS ships.
On November 13, 1969, FCPCLANT became a third echelon
command under CINCLANTFLT with Commanding Officer,
FAAWTCLANT continuing to be dual-hatted as CO, FCPCLANT.
Effective July 1, 1972, FCPCLANT and FAAWTCLANT were
formally separated. The command title of FCPCLANT was officially
changed to Fleet Combat Direction Systems Support Activity, Dam
Neck (FCDSSA, Dam Neck) and the command became a second
echelon command under CNO (OP-34). Captain R. D. McCrary,
previously the Director of Programming, became the first Com-
manding Officer, FCDSSA, Dam Neck.
On October 1, 1976, FCDSSA, Dam Neck formally became a
fourth echelon field activity of Commander, Naval Sea Systems
Command under the technical direction of NAVSEA-06. This action
was concurrent with the dissolution of the OP-34 directorate of
The evolution of the two FCPC's has continued on essentially
parallel paths and chains of command since that time. The assign-
ment of responsibilities to the two programming centers has been
redefined toward specific ships types/classes instead of fleet assign-
From the initial task to support the NTDS computer programs
of the first Atlantic Fleet NTDS ships, the mission of (formerly
FCPCLANT) FCDSSA, Dam Neck has continued to expand. From
the initial inception until April 1, 1978, development and support of
the computer program for the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training
Facility was a FCDSSA, Dam Neck function. The computer pro-
grams for the P-3C ASW aircraft were developed by FCDSSA, Dam
Neck; and, in 1976 the support of those programs was passed to
Currently, FCDSSA, Dam Neck has development and mainte-
nance responsibility for NTDS programs for 45 operational fleet
units, including DD 963, FFG 7, CGN 38, DDG 2, FF, and CG/
DDG class ships. Additionally, FCDSSA, Dam Neck is responsible
for the life cycle support of 14 VP-TSC (Tactical Support Center)
programs located at various shore activities. The command is
expected to assume responsibility for the development and mainte-
nance of several new NTDS programs, most notably, the DDG 47,
DDH, and CV-TSC programs. With the addition of these new pro-
grams and increases in the numbers of ships of classes already sup-
ported, total FCDSSA, Dam Neck support responsibility is projected
to approach 167 operational fleet units within the next ten years.
Kig, 30 "Mocassin U" Old GMS
Fig. 31 GMS as it is Today
Residential and recreational development in the vicinity of Dam
Neck has continued to keep pace with the growth of the Naval
installation. Redwing Park now sports a public golf course and tennis
courts, and the residential project, Lago Mar, with another 18-hole
golf course is an example of the expansion for the future. While
there is little resemblance to the land where the farmers brought
their grain to be ground at the mills, where surfmen risked their lives
rescuing survivors of shipwrecks and where businessmen hid away in
their lodges as an escape from city life; it is still Dam Neck, and it is
as pleasant and exciting as ever.
yyuiv^ omA <=^4-e^ial /UltctaatatfliS
1. White-De Bry. "Americae Pars, Nunc Virginia dicta."
2. John Smith. "Ould Virginia." 1624.
3. Robert Dudley. "Virginia Vecchia e' Nuoua." 1647.
4. General Benedict Arnold. "Revolutionary War Map."
(Complete map not shown.)
5. U. S. Coast Survey. "Cape Henry." 185i?.
6. Conway Sams. "Atlas, Princess Anne County 1930 (Map
7. FAAWTC Graphic Aids Dept. "Dam Neck 1890-1910."
8. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service.
"FG 140 109." 1937. (Complete photograph not shown.)
9. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service.
"FG 140 107." 1937. (Complete photograph not shown.)
10. FAAWTC Graphic Aids Dept. "Property Acquisition be-
tween Dam Neck Anti-Aircraft Test Center and Fifth
Naval District Rifle Range." 1942.
11. U. S. Navy. "Dam Neck, April 1943."
12. U. S. Navy. "Dam Neck, January 1944."
13. U. S. Navy. "Dam Neck, April 1955."
14. U, S. Navy. "Dam Neck, March 1969."
15. U. S. Navy. "Dam Neck, March 1969."
16. FAAWTC Graphic Aids Dept. "Welcome Aboard Map."
f'i <^ J
S .E cSo
^r -:•;:::-' "-^i
■I, r - v\
V /■• <:\' '■ -'^^^ -
*<.'■ -"h, -• ■^^■'.VV-
Sv rt!:f (* . y. .rrj-j-
^:"^"-^^;^'^^"'^-^ -^ ♦•:;:. 'jl^^'ifllt^i
Map 1 White-DeBry map "Ame. icae Pars, Nunc Virginia dicta", 1950. A hint of an inlet at or near Dam Neck is shown, along with indications
of Indian settlements.
— — 1- r ~ I !- ' " 1,' I ' " ""'n " ~ 1 ?
■J .iililiiii... G-
^ W'jcnifti Ik -I.
Map 2 John Smith map of 1924, "Ould Virginia".
Map 3 Robert Dudley's map of 1647, "Virginia Vecchia e Nuoua. As in
John Smith's map, an irregular coastline is indicated.
tt: z <
OQ — Q
uction of General
map is the only one
if shows Brinson's
mes of Dam Neck
at time are shown.
Map 4 Reprod
War Map. This
Inlet. The na
residents at th
w\ C a-
^CULTIVATED LAND □BRUSH 8 SWAMP ^ WATER •HOUSE ROADS or PATHS
Map 8 Aerial photographs by the U. S. Department of Agriculture Soil
Conservation Service, dated August 15, 1937. Some roads and buildings
of that period can be seen. Part of the ponds at the southeast end of
Fresh Pond have since filled in.
Overlay highlights and identifies some roads and residences of Dam Neck,
FARM HOUSE • OLD
Map 9 U. S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service aerial
photoRraph dated August 15, 1937. Some roads and buildings of that
period can be seen. (Complete photograph not shown.)
Overlay highlights and identifies some roads and residences of Dam Neck,
DAM NECK A.A. TEST CENTER
R. E. NELSON
MISS LIZZIE FREEMAN
RICHARD C COUPLAND
HENRY J BELANGA
COURTNEY A T H OM AS STORMON T
MRS. J, E. BARRY
J. H. CARROLL
Ao L. MORRISETTE
DAM NECK CG STATION
PROPRETY ACQUISITION between DAM
NECK A.A. TEST CENTER AND
FIFTH N.D. RIFLE RANGE
Map 11 Dam Neck, April 1943.
Map 12 Dam Neck, January 1944.
Map 13 Dam Neck, April 1955.
Map 14 Dam Neck, March 1969 (looking west)
Foreground, gunline; Middle center, Bldg. 127 containing: Fleet Com-
puter Programming Center, Atlantic (left), TACDEW Annex (middle),
Operations and CIC mockups (right); Upper center, barracks facilities;
Upper left. Guided Missile School, Weapons and CIC Training Building
and support facilities.
Map 15 Dam Neck. March 1969 (looking north)
Foreground left — Public Works facilities Middle center — Weapons BIdg. (dark roofs) Raborn Hall (Polaris training) and
Foreground right — Tecumseh Lake Poseidon Training BIdg. (dark roof)
Middle left — Guided Missile School and Annex Top center — Barracks facilities and General Mess
Top right — Married Officers' Quarters and BOQ
FLEL'T COMUAT TRAINING CENTER, ATLANTIC
DAM NECK, VIRGINIA DEACll, VIRGINIA (.S'OT TO 5C.V.E)
'^^iKl?!!;^ ATLA.VTIC OCCAH
•i"0 n:ruf; c»
rvvR]<l:^ PARKING £iIi,'''"Vi' I I
II oispi:;.'SARY<i — I
Jf jjljjpo ...UL
V^^^ I PARKING I
0M3 ANKEX .^
1. Information on local Indians is contained in Whichard,
Rogers, D. The History of Lower Tidewater, Virginia,
New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1959, Vol.
1, Chapter 2. This reference, published in three volumes,
is my primary source of material for the early history of
Virginia Beach and Princess Anne County.
2. Sams, Conway W., First Attempt, Norfolk, Va. : Keyser-
Doherty Printing Div., 1924, describes these explorations,
including one by Ralph Lane in 1585-86, which visited the
Virginia Beach coastal area.
3. Williams, Llovd H., Pirates of Colonial Virginia, Rich-
mond, Va.: Dietz Press, 1937, p. 56, 100. 124.
4. Whichard, Vol. 1, p. 276-280, lists and describes some of
the early settlers in this area.
5. Deed Books * 1/103 and 9/241 give this information on
Anthony Barnes. The details of Grace Sherwood's diffi-
culty with her neighbors is described in Wichard, Vol. 2,
6. Patent Book * 8/13; Deed Book 4/lOla (Lower Norfolk) ;
Kellam, Sadie and Hope, Old Houses in Princess Anne,
Virginia, Portsmouth, Va. : Printcraft, 1931, p. 143.
7. The early legal records contain many spelling errors, which
I have not corrected in my quotations.
8. Deed Book 1/103.
9. Aerial photographs, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Soil
Conservation Office, Princess Anne.
10. Patent Books 3/254 and 3/255 (abstract in Nugent, p.
287) and 7/694.
11. Patent Book 4/60 (Nugent, p. 415).
12. Patent Book 6/375.
13. Deed Book 38/312.
14. Kellam, p. 144.
15. Excellent collections of these maps are published in Mor-
rison, Clin D., North America in Antique Maps, Athens,
Ohio, 1965, and in Cummings, William R., The Southeast
in Early Maps, Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina
Press, 1962. The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Va.,
has a collection of 16th, 17th and 18th century sailing
charts of the Virginia coast.
16. Kellam, p. 142, Patent Book 6/583; Deed Book 1/103 and
17. Deed Books, 40/505, 45/172, 46/206, and 48/411.
18. Deed Book, 57/108.
19. Map Book, 3/133.
20. Deed Book, 61/515.
21. Norfolk-Virginia Pilot, November 9, 1952.
22. Deed Book 58/171. "Moore's Wind Mill" is also shown on
U. S. Coast Survey, "Sea Coast of Virginia," dated 1855.
U. S. Coast Survey, "Cape Henry, Virginia," dated 1859
shows both windmills (See Map #5).
23. Land Grant 119/772 State Library, Richmond, Va.; Deed
24. Accounts of the wreck of the Elisabeth may be found in
the 1888 Life Saving Service Annual Report, at the Mari-
ners' Museum; Norfolk Virginian, January 9th and 11th,
1887 and D. G. C. Butts, From Saddle to City by Buggy,
Boat and Railway, p. 184-187.
25. Coast and Geodetic Survey Supplementary Topography,
"Vicinity of Cape Henry," 1905, Register No. 2690.
26. Map Books 3/75 and 6/245.
27. Deed Book 62/261.
28. Map Books 6/345 and 6/351; Deed Books 117/337, 118/
90, 128/195 and 148/269.
29. Coffman, F. L., Atlas of Treasure Maps, New York ; Nelson,
* All Deed Books and Map Books are filed at Princess Anne Courthouse, unless otherwise indicated. Numbers shown indicate
book and page numbers.
♦* Patent Books are filed at the State Library, Richmond, Va. Abstracts of Patent Books 1-5 have been published in Nugent,
Cavaliers and Pioneers, Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. House, 1963. Lower Norfolk records are filed at Great Bridge, Chesa-
Mrs. Georgianna Albert, born and raised across Lake Tecumseh.
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Belanga. Mrs. Belanga is a daughter
of Captain Bailey Barco and lived near the Robinson ceme-
tery and in the Life Saving Station, Dam Neck.
Mr. L. Cherry, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District.
Captain Harold F. Crist, Commanding Officer, Fleet Anti-Air
Defense Training Center, Dam Neck, 1952-1955.
Mr. Roy Dudley, former Acting Keeper of Life Saving Station,
Lieutenant Commander Ralph D. Fisher, USCG (ret.), for-
merly stationed at Dam Neck Coast Guard Signal Station.
Rear Admiral P. D. Gallery, USN (ret.), first Commanding
Officer of Navy training center at Dam Neck.
Mr. Gilbert, Dam Neck Public Works employee for over 20
Mr. Hardison, Dam Neck Public Works employee for over 20
Mr. Harold Heischober, former U. S. Army Artillery Officer,
Colonel Aubrey Holmes, U. S. Army (ret.), son of Keeper of
Dam Neck Mills Life Saving Station.
Mrs. Louisa Venable Kyle, local historian and newspaper con-
tributor, who is an authority on Dam Neck windmills and
the Chapel By The Sea.
Mr. Lockhead, Librarian, Mariners' Museum, Newport News,
Mr. James E. Moore, Virginia Beach Chief of Police, was born
and raised across Lake Tecumseh.
Mr. Bill Morrisette, Dam Neck Public Works employee, was
born at Croatan Club, Dam Neck.
Warrent Officer C. C. Musick, USCG (ret.), formerly in charge
of Dam Neck Coast Guard Signal Station.
Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Padon. Mrs. Padon is a daughter of Leonard
Morrisette and formerly lived on the east shore of Lake
Mr. Pickard, Dam Neck Public Works employee for over 20
Mrs. David Stormont, whose family owned most of the Dam
Mr. Benjamin F. Summerlin, former Tower Control Officer in
charge of gun line at Dam Neck, 1944-1946.
Mr. Tyler, Dam Neck Public Works employee for over 20 years.
Mr. Edward Upton, owner of farm across Lake Tecumseh from
Lieutenant Colonel M. Earl Woodhouse, U. S. Army (ret.), son
of a Keeper of Dam Neck Mills Life Saving Station.
Bloomfield, Howard V. L., The Compact History of the United
States Coast Guard, New York : Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1966.
Butts, D. Gregory Claiborne, From Saddle to City by Buggy,
Boat and Railway, (Publisher unknown), 1922.
Command History," Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center
Public Affairs Office, 1966.
Kellam, Sadie Scott and V. Hope, Old Houses in Princess Anne,
Virginia, Portsmouth, Va.: Printcraft Press, 1931.
Kyle, Louisa Venable, "A Country Women's Scrapbook,'* Nor-
folk-Virginia Pilot, 1952.
Nugent, Nell Marion, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Baltimore: (Gen-
ealogical Publishing House, 1963.
"Shore Station Construction, Real Property," (File: 11013),
Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center Public Works Office.
"The Dam Neck Story," Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training
Center Public Affairs Office, 1966.
"Treasury — Annual Reports — Life Saving Service," Mariners'
Museum, Newport News, Virginia.
Whichard, Rogers Dey, The History of Lower Tidewater Vir-
ginia, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1959.
White, Benjamin Dey, Gleanings in the History of Princess
Anne County, Norfolk, 1924.
Williams, Lloyd H., Pirates of Colonial Virginia, Richmond,
Va. : Dietz Press, 1937.
FLEET COMBAT TRAINING CENTER, ATLANTIC
CDR PHILIP D. GALLERY
NOV 41 - JAN 44
CDR EDWARD C. SPENCER
JAN 45 - JUN 47
CDR WARREN C. BOLES
AUG 49 - MAR 52
CAPT EUGENE A. BARHAM
JAN 55 - DEC 57
CAPT ROBERT R. GREEN
AUG 60 - AUG 62
CAPT JOHN L. ARRINGTON II
JAN 65 - AUG 66
CAPT WILLIAM N. HOMER
OCT 66 - MAR 68
CDR JOHN W. DAVIS
JAN 70 - APR 70
CAPT JAY J. VERMILYA
OCT 72 - AUG 75
CAPT DWIGHT M. AGNEW, JR.
JUL 77 -
CDR WILLIAM J. RECHTER
JAN 44 - FEB 45
CDR KENNETH LOVELAND
JUN 47 - JUL 49
CAPT HAROLD F. CRIST
MAR 52 - JAN 55
CAPT LESTER E. HUBBELL
JAN 58 - AUG 60
CAPT JOHN B. BALCH
AUG 62 - JAN 65
CAPT HERMAN J. STANSELL, JR.
AUG 66 - OCT 66
CAPT STUART T. SADLER
MAR 68 - JAN 70
CAPT ALWYN SMITH, JR.
APR 70 - OCT 72
CAPT THOMAS R. M. EMERY
AUG 75 - JUL 77
NAVAL GUIDED MISSILES SCHOOL
1952 to PRESENT
CDR CHARLES H. WALKER
CDR WADE H. CONE
CDR ALEXANDER A. SPROULE
CAPT WILLIAM A. ARTHUR
CDR FRANK C. BRTEK
CAPT WILLIAM E. BENBOW
CDR WILLIAM G. ANDREWS, JR.
CAPT AMEDEO H. GALVANI
CAPT WILLIAM M. COSSABOOM
CAPT WILLIAM J. HERNDON, JR.
CAPT LESTER F. DEMMIN
July 1952 - January 1953
January 1953 - July 1955
July 1955 - February 1958
February 1958 - October 1961
October 1961 - December 1961
December 1961 — December 1966
December 1966 - April 1967
April 1967 - September 1970 •
September 1970 - July 1972
July 1972 - September 1976
September 1976 — Present
(♦DIRECTORS OF PROGRAMMING)
FLEET COMBAT DIRECTION SYSTEMS SUPPORT ACTIVITY, DAM NECK
*Captain M. E. WALL
JUN 62 - APR 64
*Commander D. A. OSTROM
APR 64 - MAY 65
*CaptainH.J. STANSELL, JR.
MAY 65 - JUL 67
*Commander J. A. DELANEY
JUL 67 - AUG 67
*Captain C.S. PETERSEN
AUG 67 - JAN 71
*Captain R. D. McCRARY
JAN 71 - JUL 72
Captain R. D. McCRARY
JUL 72 - AUG 74
Commander J. E. O^HARA
AUG 74 - OCT 74
Captain R. A. VOLLERTSEN
OCT 74 - AUG 75
Captain J.J. EDWARDS
AUG 75 - SEP 78
Captain J. E. FERNANDES
SEP 78 -
•ilrU. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1978-736-340
Fig. 1-4 U. S. Navy Photos by Bill Reed, JOl
Fig. 5-6-7 Courtesy of Mrs if \, Padon
Fig. 7A Courtesy of Mrs. L. V. Kyle
Fig. 9 U. S. Navy Photo by Bill Reed, JOl
Fig. 10 U. S. Navy Photo by Bill Reed, JOl
Fig. 14 Courtesy of Mr. Roy Dudley
Fig. 15 Courtesy of Mariners Museum
Fig. 16-17-18 Courtesy of COL Aubrey Holmes
Fig. 19 U. S. Navy Photo
Fig 22 Courtesy of Mariners Museum
Fig. 24-25 U. S. Navy Photos by Bill Reed, JOl
Fig. 26 U. S. Navy Photo
Fig. 27-28 U. S. Navy Photos by Bill Reed, JOl
Fig. 29 U. S. Navy Photo
* Sources unknown where rigurei> aic nul liuuhlu.