Posted by: RasmaSandra | July 14, 2018

North Carolina Off the Beaten Path

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Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is located in the village of Flat Rock. The previous owners named this house Connemara because the view of the distant Blue Ridge Mountains reminded them of a mountainous region in western Ireland. This was Carl Sandburg’s last home. The poet and two-time Pulitzer prizewinner died here in 1967. Carl Sandburg spent a lifetime exploring what it meant to be an American and asked the eternal questions, “Who am I, where am I going and where have I been?”

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This house was built in the 1830s and today stands as a memorial to Sandburg his life and his work. In the living room, one can see his guitar leaning against a favorite easy chair and there are magazines from the 1940s lying about on tables and the floor. A framed photograph of Sandburg hangs over the fireplace. A large office contains a typewriter surrounded by piles of books. There are cardboard boxes filled with research material and notes. On Sandburg’s desk lies one of the green eyeshades he invariably used.

A self-guiding walk leads to the farm area and its animals and trails cross the pastures and woodlands of the 260-acre park leading up Big Glassy Mountain where one can see wildflowers and bluebirds. Near the visitor’s center is a small, wooded picnic area.

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Stone Mountain State Park – This 13,670-acre park offers plunging waterfalls, granite outcroppings, narrow dirt roads and trails twisting through Catawba rhododendrons and mountain laurel. For the fishermen, there are creeks stocked with trout – rainbows, browns and “brookies”. In Bullhead Creek (a “Fish for Fun” stream where fly-fishermen may practice their techniques but must toss back their catch) rainbows as long as 26 inches have been hooked.

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Trails lead to the 2,300 foot summit of Stone Mountain and to Stone Mountain Falls, Cedar Rock, and Wolf Rock. There are 13 ascent routes for mountain climbers. Throughout the densely forested area, one can find lady’s slippers, trilliums, bluets and other wildflowers and ferns. Among the bird population are red-tailed hawks, ruffed grouse, black vultures, wild turkeys and owls and animals to be seen are white-tailed deer, beavers, otters, minks, and foxes. Bears and even cougars
have been reported but are extremely rare.

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Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site – Located west of Stanfield. In 1799 the young son of John Reed a German immigrant found a large, shiny yellow rock in Little Meadow Creek near his father’s farm. Not being able to identify its composition Reed used it as a doorstop until in 1802 a jeweler offered him $3.50 for it and Reed sold it to him. Actually, the shiny rock was gold and weighed about 17 pounds. It was the first authenticated gold “find” in the US. Soon afterward Reed established a mining company and in 1831he expanded the operation from placer mining (creek panning) to underground mining which continued under several ownerships until 1912. Guided tours take people through a maze of restored mine shafts.

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There is a restored 1895 stamp mill, used today to demonstrate how gold can be extracted from quartz. At the panning area, visitors are shown how gold can be separated from the soil. A self-guiding nature trail winds through the fields and forests of this 840-acre historic site. A picnic area is across the road from the main entrance in a grove of tall pines and oaks.

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Indian Museum of the Carolinas – Located in Laurinburg. The museum tells the history of the early Indians of the Carolinas where over a period of 12,000 years 45 different Indian cultures existed. Their present-day descendants include the tribes of the Cherokees, Coharies, Tuscaroras, Waccamaw-Siouans, and Catawbas. In fact, North Carolina has the largest Indian population in the eastern US. The permanent collection contains more than 200,000 artifacts, some more than 10,000 years old. In the 40 different exhibits are examples of pottery, stone tools and weapons, jewelry and dugouts, including an unfinished craft still attached to a tree trunk. Tours of the museum and slide presentations are conducted by a staff archeologist. The excellent research library and the museum’s collection are available to students and scholars. Near the museum are the extensive Native American Gardens featuring the various plants used by
the Indians of the Carolinas for food, fibers, dyes, and medicines.

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Merchants Millpond State Park – Located at Gatesville. In 1811 a dam was built here to create a large pond and waterpower for a sawmill and gristmill. Today this 760-acre lake and the adjoining swamps are popular with fishermen. There are towering bald cypresses and tupelo gums that are distorted by the weight of parasitic mistletoe and have an eerie appearance. The fish caught here are speckled perch, bream, jack, gars, catfish and largemouth bass. Among the 180 species of birds seen in the area are egrets, great horned owls, and eagles.

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The ingenious design of beaver dams up to six feet high may be admired and hikers may encounter the garish but harmless white, pink, and black eastern mud snakes. The sounds of the ringing calls of male tree frogs can be heard throughout the woods in spring and summer. Among slash pines, American holly and maples there is a tent and trailer campground. More primitive campgrounds can be found deep within the swamp. The Chowan Swamp Canoe Trail which begins at the millpond and proceeds south along a creek offers an adventure of four or more days
round trip.

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Somerset Place State Historic Site and Pettigrew State Park – in Creswell. This 17,368-acre park was once part of a coastal plantation named for the home county of its English owner, Josiah Collins. His grandson built a handsome clapboard mansion on his ancestral land around 1830. The mansion has marble fireplaces, wood grain painted doors and wide porches. Further reminders of the past include a rare 1850 Wilson sewing machine and a toy stagecoach with beeswax horses. Nearby are the kitchen, dairy, icehouse and other clapboard buildings surrounded by a formal garden of boxwood, holly, and crape myrtle and several majestic trees.

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The adjacent park is named for General James Pettigrew who is buried here. Pettigrew played a major role in General George E. Pickett’s famous charge at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. There are more than five miles of trails penetrating the park’s virgin forest of huge oaks, swamp chestnuts, and other hardwoods. One can see red-shouldered hawks, pileated woodpeckers, and deer.

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A major attraction is Phelps Lake the second largest in the state and famous for the largemouth bass that attract anglers. Many ducks and geese can be seen on the lake in winter. The park has a picnic grove, trailer sites, and a boat ramp.

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Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge – Located at Rodanthe. Every spring and fall geese, ducks and other migratory birds use the Atlantic Flyway. This 5,915- acre island is one of the eastern seaboard’s best vantage points to view the birds resting or en route. Extending for more than 12 miles along the shifting dunes of the Outer Banks, this complex of salt marshes and freshwater pond supports otters, muskrats, and nutrias as well as loggerhead, sea, and snapper turtles and diamondback terrapins.

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There are many ring-necked pheasants as well as egrets, herons, ibises, least terns, and black ducks among other waterfowl and shorebirds that nest here. Peregrine falcons are often seen during spring and fall migrations and more than 250 other bird species are occasionally observed. The New Field Observation Area and two observation platforms are available for sightings while freshwater ponds which support ducks, geese and swans can be observed from the car. Five access points to Atlantic beaches and one to Pamlico Sound attract swimmers as well as fishermen who may cast for sea trout, channel bass, pompano, and bluefish. The island can be easily reached by road.

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Portsmouth – An isolated island village which is a 250-acre historic preserve administered by the National Park Service. In the 1850s and 1860s, the village prospered as a port where cargo was transferred from seagoing ships to smaller boats for the journey inland. Shoaling of the inlet ended this enterprise and by the 1890s most of the inhabitants had moved away. Today some 20 old buildings, including a schoolhouse, a Methodist church, and a lifesaving complex remain. Portsmouth can be reached by a small passenger ferry from Ocracoke or by car-carrying ferry from the town of Atlantic to the southern end of Portsmouth Island some 20 miles below the village.

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Fort Macon State Park – Since the early 1700s, when the pirate Blackbeard used Beauford Inlet as a hideout, its strategic importance has been well recognized. After several unsuccessful attempts to fortify the island, the construction of Fort Macon was begun in 1826 and completed eight years later. The only real action seen at this fort was on April 25, 1862, when it was shelled by Union forces and captured the next morning.

This fort is named for Nathaniel Macon a North Carolina senator and is encircled by a moat that could be flooded with the tidewaters of Bogue Sound. Surrounding the fort’s inner parade are quarters for the garrison, storerooms, and a kitchen and bakery. The commandant’s quarters have been restored and there is a small museum.

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The park also offers a protected ocean swimming area, picnic grounds with fireplaces and a shelter and hiking. Fishermen will enjoy surf casting from the park’s shores.

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Fort Fisher State Historic Site and Marine Resources Center – During the Civil War, the Union blockade of southern ports prevented the South from receiving essential war supplies. As a countermeasure Confederate blockade runners made daring trips through the fog and on moonless nights to land their precious cargo. Fort Fisher was built to provide cover for the Confederate seamen entering Cape Fear River on their way to the Confederacy’s major port in Wilmington.

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Extending for one mile along the Atlantic Coast and across a sand peninsula, this series of redoubts was the South’s largest earthwork fort. Today only a few mounds remain. In a small museum exhibits explain events that took place here from December 1864 to January 1865 when the fort finally fell to a determined Union action that employed some 58 warships and 8,000 infantrymen. At the Marine Resources Center nearby an aquarium displays several species of turtles and a nurse shark plus fish and crustaceans common to the Atlantic. Egrets, great blue herons, brown pelicans and two species of ibises can be observed along two short nature trails.


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