Seatack, Virginia was located in Princess Anne County and is now part of the Oceanfront resort strip and adjacent area of the independent city of Virginia Beach. The Seatack community of Virginia Beach includes an area inland from the resort strip along present-day Virginia Beach Boulevard. Seatack Elementary School is located nearby on Birdneck Road. The 1903 Seatack Station of the United States Lifesaving Service is now the Old Coast Guard Station Museum located at 24th street adjacent to the boardwalk.
Seatack was named because it was the point on the coast of rural Princess Anne County where the community was the target of cannonballs fired from British ships and was where troops came ashore during an attack in the War of 1812. The isolated stretch of beach place became known as "Sea Attack", and was gradually shortened to "Sea 'ttack", and then, finally, simply "Seatack".Seatack was the location of the first "resort" hotel in 1884 which opened after a 19-mile-long narrow gauge railroad was built from Norfolk in 1883. It was remodeled in 1888 and renamed the "Princess Anne Hotel", a massive 2 block wooden facility, which attracted vacationers from considerable distances.
In 1891, while hotel guests watched, surfmen from the Seatack station of United States Lifesaving Service were involved in the rescue efforts for the Norwegian bark Dictator which ran aground near present-day 37th street. Seven lives were lost, including the Captain's wife and small child, leading to the Norwegian Lady memorials and several local legends.
At some point in the early 1900s, the name Seatack became more specifically applied to an area west of the beach, the oldest neighborhood of free blacks in Princess Anne County. Legend has it that blacks were allowed to settle in this area because whites didn't see the future value of the swampy wooded land. Blacks not only settled this area but also thrived there. Blacks who lived in the area called Seatack made many historical accomplishments in the segregated county of Princess Anne, that included raising money to build schools for their children (namely, Princess Anne County Training School—1938), starting a fire station (Seatack Fire Station) because the black neighborhood wasn't serviced by the city fire and rescue, building churches (Mount Olive Baptist, St. Stephens COGIC) to worship in and a community/daycare center.
In 1915, the United States Lifesaving Service became the United States Coast Guard. The station at Seatack (built in 1903 to replace an earlier structure) is now a museum at 24th street adjacent to the boardwalk of Virginia Beach. The area's lifesaving history along the coast line of the Graveyard of the Atlantic is commemorated at the Old Coast Guard Station Museum which has artefacts from the shipwreck of the Dictator, displays of period lifesaving equipment, educational programs. The museum also has a webcam which shows Internet users a view similar to that of members of the lifesaving crews had over 100 years ago.
Another extant Coast Guard Station was located at Little Island. Located south of Sandbridge, it is owned by the City of Virginia Beach. However, the Little Island Coast Guard Station is not open to the public.
- William O. Foss The Norwegian Lady and the Wreck of the Dictator. Virginia Beach, Virginia: Noreg Books, 2002. ISBN 0-9721989-0-3.
- Geographical coordinates: (click for maps and satellite photos of Seatack, Virginia)
- Old Coast Guard Station at Virginia Beach, official web site
- Virginia Beach History, Old Coast Guard Station webpage