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Archive for north carolina

The Great Guide

By Linda Tancs

To the Saura Indians, North Carolina’s Pilot Mountain was known as Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot.” It guided both Native Americans and early European hunters along a north-south path through the area. A quartzite monadnock, this rugged mountain rock has survived for millions of years while the elements have eroded surrounding peaks to a rolling plain. Comprising two pinnacles, Big Pinnacle is the iconic knob of bare rock topped with vegetation. It’s connected to Little Pinnacle, easily accessed by visitors for views of hundreds of square miles of the Piedmont and the nearby mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. Pilot Mountain State Park is located in Surry and Yadkin counties, 16 miles north of Winston-Salem.

North Carolina’s First Park

By Linda Tancs

It’s a banner year for North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell State Park, its first state park created 100 years ago, marking the centennial of the state’s parks system that has grown to nearly 250,000 acres set aside for conservation, recreation and education. The locale also enjoys the distinction of hosting the highest point east of the Mississippi, the dramatic summit of Mount Mitchell. Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about the park.

Birthplace of Pepsi

By Linda Tancs

Home to the first state capitol, New Bern is North Carolina’s second oldest city. A charming little town first settled in 1710, it also has the distinction of being the birthplace of Pepsi. In fact, the drug store on the corner of Middle and Pollock Streets in downtown New Bern is the actual location where one of the world’s favorite soft drinks was invented by Caleb Bradham in his pharmacy in 1898. The site is open daily for visits.

North Carolina’s First Capitol

By Linda Tancs

North Carolina’s first permanent state capitol, Tryon Palace in New Bern is a complex of seven major buildings, three galleries and 14 acres of gardens. Home to Royal Governor William Tryon and his family, the Governor’s Palace was a Georgian-style structure completed in 1770. It was the site of the first sessions of the general assembly for the State of North Carolina following the revolution and housed the state governors until 1794. Destroyed by fire in 1798, today’s reproduction opened in 1959. Tours in the Governor’s Palace and historic houses are guided. Catch a free tour this Saturday, which is Free Day.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic

By Linda Tancs

Shipwrecks play a major role in the history of the ocean just offshore of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a region appropriately named the Graveyard of the Atlantic. From Kitty Hawk south to Ocracoke, you can snorkel or dive around 3,000 wrecks, including the first colonial ships of the 1500s and the most German U-boats sunk off any state coast in America. Landlubbers need not miss out. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras offers a full range of exhibits, programs and events covering all major wrecks as well as the area’s cultural and coastal history.

America’s Most Visited National Park

By Linda Tancs

There are lots of reasons to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hikers love the 800 miles of maintained trails. There’s also fishing, camping, picnicking and auto touring. And, oh, the bears–1,500 live in the park; that’s nearly two per square mile. You can view them handily from Cades Cove, one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies for wildlife viewing. The Great Smoky Mountains are also known as the “Wildflower National Park,” boasting over 1,500 varieties and year-round blooms. You might think that, given its popularity, the biggest population of vertebrates in the park is the human variety. Not so. Thirty species of salamander roam the park at elevations up to 3,000 feet. That’s why they call it the “Salamander Capital of the World.” , The tallest mountains in the Appalachian chain, the Smokies host five forest types giving way to enviable biological diversity–and human history. No wonder it’s America’s most visited national park. Located in the east Tennessee region and straddling the border with North Carolina, you can easily access the park via Gatlinburg.

Lighting the Way in North Carolina

By Linda Tancs

Ocracoke Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina and the second oldest operating light station in the nation (surpassed by New Jersey’s Sandy Hook Lighthouse).  Built in 1823, the need to preserve its structural integrity prevents climbing, but the exterior views are just as enchanting.  For interior views, you can visit four other lighthouses adorning the Outer Banks:   Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras (the tallest lighthouse in North America), Currituck Beach and Roanoke Marshes.  The lights, however, aren’t the only things sparkling at night–tiny dinoflagellates kicked up in the beaches along Cape Hatteras National Seashore glow with a blue-green light.

The Dogs of War

By Linda Tancs

The nation’s first memorial to SOF (Special Operations Forces) dogs is in place at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Over 2,000 dogs serve in the U.S. military today, a tradition that began during World War II.  Our canine soldiers participate in military operations around the globe, including combat zones where their skill in detecting bombs and attackers is indispensable.  A life-size bronze of a Belgian Malinois in combat gear stands sentinel at the museum’s parade grounds, opposite a statue of paratrooper Iron Mike.

For the Love of Blueberries

By Linda Tancs

Burgaw, North Carolina is a small town of 4000 or so inhabitants.  So why does such a tiny hamlet attract nearly eight times its population during the annual North Carolina Blueberry Festival?  Well, it is the state’s official ‘blue’ berry–and blueberry production got its start in this southeastern part of the state.  But Burgaw also brims with historical delights in its downtown location.  The old railroad station, for instance, is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Civil War Trail.  Dating back to 1850, it is believed to be the oldest standing depot in North Carolina.  Just decades older, the courthouse, a focal point for festival goers, is a mix of Georgian and Colonial architecture.  And just west of town is Moore’s Creek Battlefield, an 86-acre site dedicated to the Revolutionary War battle of Moore’s Creek.   So, for the love of blueberries, stop on by this Saturday.

Home Furnishings Capital of the World

By Linda Tancs

Furniture shoppers are well aware of High Point, North Carolina.  The nation’s largest furniture store is there, along with 50 discounters.  Not surprisingly, that’s where you’ll also find the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers, a roadside attraction.  What you might not know is that you can explore High Point’s furniture heritage even further at the High Point Museum.  The exhibit includes interactive elements, video, photographs, memorabilia, machinery and, of course, furniture.

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