Written by vampirefan on 23 Sep, 2006
Way before the white man arrived and the first English settlers placed their pilgrim square toed shoes on the ground of what would become my beloved state of North Carolina there were the Native Americans. Because we are one of the 13 original colonies, we…Read More
Way before the white man arrived and the first English settlers placed their pilgrim square toed shoes on the ground of what would become my beloved state of North Carolina there were the Native Americans. Because we are one of the 13 original colonies, we have a lot of history and a lot of reason to celebrate. So the NC Historic Sites program offers an inside of NC for the past 600 years or so. While Native Americans are to often left out of the history of many places, at least one of the historic sites does honor the real first Americans.
In 1955 there were seven historical properties that were once state parks and now would be part of the NC Department of Archives and History. This was the beginning of the program that now includes 22 places that celebrates the varied history of my scenic state. The sites cover more than 600 years of history. They cover from our sunny and inviting beaches to our glorious mountains and the surprising places in between. You will find dramatic houses (including home to a favorite native), war torn battlefields, a gold mine, historic towns, a celebrated school, and a Native American ceremonial site.
The 22 sites include:
1.Historic Bath . NC’s first town and home to many firsts. The town was incorporated on March 8, 1705. Blackeard even stopped by for a while!
2.Historic Edenton . One of the first areas to be settled and often called the colony of the Carolinas. Established in 1712. Once a major port town.
3.Historic Halifax . Established in 1760, many of the colony’s leading politicians called this area home. Many battles during the Revolution were fought here. Today an incredible town of history and lovely homes.
4.Somerset Place . A 1786 antebellum homes of Josiah Collins.
5.Charles B Aycock Birthplace . An 1846 home of one of NC’s governors. Known as the ‘Educational governor" He built more than 1000 schools, started summer teachers training, increased teachers pay, and raised teaching requirements.
6.Bentonville Battle Ground . In one of the largest battles of fighting with Yankees, Bentonville proved to be the last offensive of the Confederacy.
7.Bruckswick Town/Ft. Anderson . One of the earliest ports, a vital source for navel stores, and the place of one of the early politician’s actions against England.
8.CSS Neuse . Civil War gunboat.
9.Ft. Fisher. The last major stronghold of the confederacy.
10.Almance Battleground . Grounds of the 1771 Battle of Almance in which royal Governor William Tryon defeated the Regulators.
11.Bennett Place . This farmhouse was where Gen Joseph E. Johnston and Maj. General William T. Sherman negated the surrender of the troops of the Civil War.
12.Charlotte Hawkins Brown Memorial . Founded in 1902 by Brown as Palmer Memorial Institute. It was the preeminent prep school for African American children.
13.Duke Homestead . The farm of Washington Duke where much of the early production of tobacco came from.
14.House in the Horseshoe . Built in 1772 by Phillip Alston, a Revolutionary War hero. Later attacked by Tories in 1781.
15.Town Creek Indian Mound . More than 600 years ago Native tribes used this area as their tribal ceremonial center.
16.Ft. Dobbs . Built in 1756 for royal governor Arthur Dobbs. Used as a stronghold during the war and later kept back a raiding party of Cherokee Indians.
17.Horne Creek Living Historical Farm . Built in 1830 for John Hauser. Used by the family for more than 150 years, it gives a glimpse of farming life in the Carolinas in the early part of the century.
18.NC Transportation Museum . Pretty much self-explanatory. Dedicated to all forms of transportation, mainly trains and automobiles. You can even take a relaxing 25 minute train ride within the compound.
19.James K Polk Memorial. A memorial to our nation’s 11th president.
20.Reed Gold Mine . In 1799 a young Conrad Reed brought a rock home with him that he discovered in the family creek. 3 years later his father, John, discovered that "rock" was a 17 pound gold nugget! This was the first discovery of gold in the nation.
21.Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace . Built in the 1800’s this was the home of Congressman Vance.
22.Thomas Wolfe Memorial. Built in 1883 and was the home of famed writer and inspiration for one of his most famous books, Look Homeward Angel
Each of these unique and enjoyable sites tells the rich history of what makes our state so diverse and so alive with history. There is sure to be a site that will appeal to each member of your family. For natives it is a celebration of our history. For visitors, it shows what makes this state so great.
In addition to the permanent displays, each site hosts a number of yearly events. You can watch as actors go to battle at our war fields, celebrate the fall harvest, step back in time in one of the historical days, or celebrate Christmas at one of the many Christmas open houses.
Each site has a visitors center complete with restrooms and most are handicapped accessible. The handicapped accessibility of each site will vary. Each site also has its own gift shop which range from small with only a few relevant books and post cards to ones on an impressive scale offering everything related to the site you can think of. Of the places I have visited so far, the Transportation Museum has the largest gift shop. This huge shop offers everything from typical souvenirs such as postcards and books to models costing into the hundred’s of dollars. Parents (and wives) be warned..you may want to put blinders on your children (including the hubby). This place is meant to entice imaginations and you will be met with the cries of "I want this". Most also have picnic tables for the public to use.
The best place to start your search is by going to www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us. This is the website of the states archival program. Here you can find out more about the history of our state and the program itself. From here you can click on to each individual site for more information. Though not an official publication, North Carolina’s State Historic Sites by Gary L. McCullough , also offers valuable information on each site. It does have the endorsement of the program though and a forward from the sites administrator, James R. McPherson. You can pick up the book at many of the sites, from your favorite book store, or directly from the publisher John F. Blair Publishers (www.blairpub.com).
April through October: Tue-Sat. 9-5 Sun. 1-5.
November-March: Tue-Sat.10-4 Sun. 1-4.
Closed Monday and major holidays.
Please check each site before you go. Site hours may vary from the above hours. I know, for example, Reed’s Gold Mine is not open on Sunday. Hours may vary and be extended for special events.
There is a passport program in connection to the program. You can pick up a passport for $5 at one of the sites gift shops. At each site you can get your passport stamped. The sites are divided up into 4 sections (Northeast, East, Central, and West). You get a gift when you complete each section and then when you have your passport full.
Admission is free to each of these sites. There are fees connected with some of the activities offered and fees for admission to some of the festivals. There are donation boxes at each site and donations are great appreciated and highly encouraged by myself. If you visit please make a donation. Budget cutbacks in our state have left these places relying heavily on donations to keep the sites running. Apparently many of our elected officials do not place this wonderful program high on their list of funding so the programs need your help. So again, please donate.
I do hope that if you are a fellow Tarhill, then you will get out and enjoy these places that are so important to us. If you are visiting my home state then I hope this will encourage you to visit one or more of these fascinating places.
Today there are 4 structures for visitors to see. 1) The guard tower is passed through in order to get inside the field. There is a protective stockade made of pointed logs that surround the site. There are two towers today, and visitors enter the…Read More
Today there are 4 structures for visitors to see. 1) The guard tower is passed through in order to get inside the field. There is a protective stockade made of pointed logs that surround the site. There are two towers today, and visitors enter the north tower. The lookout tower would have been used to see who was approaching the site. 2) The Mortuary was the same thing as a mortuary was today. Each clan would have their own structure to be used for burials. Today the present-day visitors will find an A/V program to guide you through a Native funeral. 3) The town house and mound. This is the most import building here is built on top of other huts that had collapsed. This was the ceremonial and political center of the people. This is where the priests and tribe elders met for important matters and religious observances. There was a sacred fire kept within except for during busk. 5) The Priest Hut. This is where the priest or the sacred flame keeper lived. There are also marked nature trails that round on the property.
When the modern visitor arrives, your first stop should be the visitor’s center. They have a number of exhibits on the Natives who first lived here and photos and documents of the progress in the excavation and construction of the site. There is also a 15 minute film on the Pee Dee society. There is a gift shop and among the things for sale are Native crafts. There are restrooms and a water fountain here as well. They do have drinks and concessions for sale as well. There are a numerous events through out the year including a several astronomy events, Archeology month celebrated in October, Halloween events, night tours, and the popular Town Creek Heritage Festival which includes a pow wow.
Town Creek is located just outside of Mt. Gilead, a very pretty and picturesque small town. Here you will find convenience stores and several restaurants after your day of visiting.
Hours/admission. April-October Tues.-Sat. 9-5, Sunday 1-5. November through March: Tues.-Sat. 10-4, Sun. 1-4. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Hours for events may change so always check. Admission is free. There are charges for most events. And I will say this in every entry. Please if you are going to visit here I implore you to place a donation in the box. These important programs are run in part by donations. Please donate so these fantastic people can keep this astounding place open!
For more information go to www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us. Then click on sites and click on Town Creek. This is the site for the NC Historic Sites program and you can find out about all the other wonderful places to visit. Also check out the book, North Carolina’s State Historic Sites by Gary L. McCullough he has a very compressive guide to each site. . They do participate in the passport program. You can pick up a passport at any site in the visitors center for $5. At each site get your passport stamped. You get a gift after completing each region and the whole passport.
Today the museum is a mecca for transportation and history buffs alike. Young or old, transportation fan or not, history lover, or the curios will be delighted by this unique place. When you first pull into the parking lot you will find the visitors center.…Read More
Today the museum is a mecca for transportation and history buffs alike. Young or old, transportation fan or not, history lover, or the curios will be delighted by this unique place. When you first pull into the parking lot you will find the visitors center. This 1898 building is known as Barber Junction and was original a passenger station in Barber NC and was moved to the site in 1980. Here you can purchase tickets for the train ride as well as pick up a very comprehensive map of the compound. There are restrooms located here as well and this is where you board the train when you are ready for your ride. They also have one of the penny machines that will squash a penny flat and leave a design on it (great and cheap souvenir) so make sure you have 2 quarters and a penny with you.
From here you walk out to the exhibit area. There is limited number of parking spaces closer to the exhibit area. So if it is crowed, please be considerate of the handicapped and others who may have problems, and park further back.
You will first come across the 1911 Master Mechanics Office. Once housed well... the mater mechanics office as well the clerk’s offices and housed parts. Today you will find one huge gift shop and probably the biggest of the sites gift shops. Here you can find your standard gift shop goodies from post cards, pins, pens, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and museum collectibles. They carry a well stocked book section with plenty of books on transportation and the area. They also carry a nice sized kids section with small cars and trains that will delight any wee one. They also have a big sized kid’s area fill with model kits and completed models of ship, trains, and cars that are meant for adults and carry a much bigger price tag. Some of these models inch up toward the $1000 mark! Here you will also find the Wagons, Wheel, and Wings exhibit. You can see a covered wagon that was used to transport our forefathers to airplanes which celebrate the fact that NC is first in flight.
Next to that is the 1924 Flue Shop. This was where mechanics used to repair the pipes found in the steam boilers. Today it houses the Bumper to Bumper exhibit. This exhibit showcases about 2 dozens restored and preserved antique cars. They have everything from the grand A and T models, to 1950s classics, grand touring cars, and an incredible 1935 Ford Highway Patrol Car. This and the train ride were my favorites.
Lined up along the shops are several open train cars. They house a number of exhibits including the history of the museum, the history of the area, and train travel.
After touring here then you can head out to the 1924 roundhouse. This is where most of the regular repairs and upkeep of the engines were performed. Here (for a fee) you can take a ride on the turntable. Housed inside you will find a number of restored trains from its beginnings in the 1800s up to the 1960s. Included are several antique cars which once allowed the rich to travel in style to the stream line beauty, the Pullman car. On down a bit and you can see the works in progress and restoration specialists work to restore these magnificent machines to their former glory. You can also view the 13 minute film, History of Transportation as well as a 15 minute video on railroading in NC.
The highlight of any visit is the 25 minute train ride that goes through the complex. After paying your fee, you board the train at Barbers junction. The train runs several times throughout the day. You just let them know which time you would like to ride. This is a slow paced relaxing ride in which one of the many wonderful volunteers will give you a history of the area and the museum. On Sunday they will make a stop on the return at the roundhouse saving you the long walk back.
Back at the water tower there are another set of restrooms as well as a picnic area. There is a vending area at the roundhouse. They do have handicapped parking to allow all visitors to enjoy the museum. You do need to allot several hours here. You need a minimum of 3 hours here if you plan to ride the train. We were here 3 ½ hours and rode the train and did not get to see everything. There is a lot of walking here so good comfortable shoes are suggested. Make sure you bring your camera because photography is allowed everywhere here.
Hours, fees, and other stuff.
Hours are from April to October: Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm, Sunday from 1am to 5pm.
From November to March: Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 1pm, Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays.
Fees: Admission free. Train ride $6 pp. Roundhouse train ride $1 pp. While admission is free, you will see donation boxes throughout the site. Please, please, please…if you are visiting please make a donation. I cannot stress this enough. This wonderful museum can only continue to run through donations made to the site. So if you go…give a donation.
For a memorable birthday experience….try the birthday caboose. March through December you may rent one of the operating caboose’s for a party. Contact the museum for details.
There are a number of events through the year. The most popular is when Thomas the Train pulls into the station. Advanced tickets are highly recommended. The also have the Easter Bunny and Santa express, antique car shows, antique truck shows, and Trick or Train at Halloween. Check the websites for more information.
The NC Transportation museum is one of the 22 sites designated as NC Historical Sites. You can go to www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us. This is the site for the program. You can find out all about this wonderful program and just click on the museum site for more information. Or their direct site is www.nctrans.org. They also participate on the passport program so make sure you bring your book (read my general entry for more information).
There is a terrific book that goes into detail of each of the states 22 Historic Sites and it is North Carolina’s State Historic Sites by Gary L. McCullough. It is available from your favorite book provider or directly from the publisher, John F. Blair at www.blairpub.com
For film buffs. The museum has been featured in several movies, mini series, and documentaries. The most prominent was in the CBS 1999 TV movie Having Our Say the first 100 years of the Delaney sisters . The movie stared Dianne Carroll and Ruby Dee as the sister. Adapted from the book of the same name, the movie tells the life of the remark Delay sisters who were born in Raleigh. The book is truly fascinating and is a must read for anyone. The book was written by Amy Hill Hearth and is readily available at book stores. The book has also been turned into a successful play. The museum can also been seen in Washington (2000), Shake Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story (1999), Lolita (1997) Secrets (1995), Spies (1992) and a number of railroad documentaries. For more information on film sites in NC try the Film Junkie’s Guide to NC by Connie Nelson and Floyd Harris. Also available from Blair Publishers.
The museum is located in the historic town of Spencer. Here you can find a place to dine or go shopping. Next door is the historical town of Salisbury. Salisbury features a large historic district, the historic national cemetery, art museums, and more. For more information please go to www.visitsalisburync.com.
The NC Transportation museum makes for a fun and fascinating day for anyone. When we were here we saw family members of all ages here. So come and make a day of the NC Transportation Museum.
The men first stuck with placer mining which is just digging up gold from the ground. They dug around the Little Meadow Creek in an area now known as the potato patch. In 1825 underground mining began after a local farmer named Matthias Barranger discovered…Read More
The men first stuck with placer mining which is just digging up gold from the ground. They dug around the Little Meadow Creek in an area now known as the potato patch. In 1825 underground mining began after a local farmer named Matthias Barranger discovered gold in the white quartz rocks. In 1831 Reed and his investors followed suit and his underground mining quickly became quite profitable. In 1834 the discovery of a 13 pound nugget left the partners disgruntled in how to divide the nugget. It closed the mine for 10 years while the family battled in country. It was settled prior to Johns’ death in 1845 at age 88.
John died quite a wealthy man from his gold prospecting. His home included 745 areas of land and 18 slaves. His wealth when he died was a substantial (for the time) $40,000. Though for most of his life he fancied himself as a farmer and would only worry about the mine when he wasn’t tending to his crops. It was estimated that about $2 million worth of gold was taken from the mine.
In the 1850’s gold mining was an active industry in the Carolinas. There was so much gold discovered here that NC was nicknamed the Golden State before California would take on the official moniker. In December of 1837 the US government built a branch of the mint to Charlotte. More than $5 million worth of gold coins were minted here. It was eventually shut down during the Civil War. Today it serves as the Mint Museum of Art. George Barnhart, son-in-law of John, started his own gold mining production at nearby Gold Hill. Today visitors can still visit the historical site.
After John’s death his grandson (Timothy) and son-in-law (Andrew Hartsell) took over the business. The family was not able to sustain the mine and in 1852 it was sold to new owners and was the last time it would be in the Reed family. It changed hands a number of times and mining was done here throughout the years. The last major find was in 1896 when Jacob L. Shinn discovered a 23-pound nugget. In the 1890’s the Kelly family of Ohio took over the mine. The last excavation of the mine occurred in 1912.
In 1966 the US Department of the Interior designated the mine as a National Historic Landmark. The Kelly family continued to own the mine until 1971 when they sold it to the NC Division of Archives and History. In 1976 the General Assembly approved $650,000 to develop the site for use as a public site. In April of 1977 it was open to the public. In the 1980’s a stamp mill, from a nearby operation was added to the site. Today it is still run under the NC Historic Sites. And judging by the number of people that were there when we visited, it is one of the most popular sites.
Today visitors are treated to a unique hands-on experience. When you first arrive in the visitor’s center make sure to check the board to see when the next movie and tour starts. There is a 22 minute film which starts with Conrad’s discovery through the gold rush in the Carolinas. There is a museum inside the center which shows how gold was mined, the tools needed, and the end result. There is even an astronaut helmet. In 1969 gold was used on the visors of the helmet to protect the astronaut’s eyes from the sunlight on the moon.
This is also where the tours for the underground caverns begin. Tours are offered about once an hour. You just need to be in the vicinity of the entrance when it is time for the tour to start. On our visit, Kim and Norman would be our guide. You are lead down a walking path past old mining instruments and over the Little Meadow Creek where young Conrad made his discovery and by the potatoes patch where the family first started their mining efforts. You are then lead to the entrance of Linker Shaft where the underground portion begins. On our outing the group was so big that we had to divide up into 2 groups. You will eventually descend 55 feet below ground through narrow and damp corridors. You will see as white quartz glistens under the dampness of the earth, equipment that the miners used, and at one point you can look straight up and see the opening to a shaft and realize just how far into the ground you are. Kim was a terrific guide explaining the mining process to us all and answering questions from the crowd. 30 minutes later we reemerged into the sunlight and our tour ended here.
From here you have several options. You can simply return back to the visitor’s center or parking lot. You can take one of several walking tours throughout the property including a tour which goes by the stamp mill. There are markers along the way to explain what you are seeing. You can rest and enjoy the Little Meadow Creek. Or turn left onto Gold Street and try your luck at panning for your riches. You just simply show one of the employees your ticket and go grab a place along the water filled trough. Someone will bring your rock filled pan over. Panning is not as easy as I though. You have to move the silt and mud around, pick out big rocks, and get rid of all the debris to get to the bottom of your pan. Sadly neither I nor Brenda would be bringing home riches on this trip. I would have settled for just a few flakes as a souvenir and the 2 little boys beside of us were that lucky!
The visitor’s center is where you pay for your panning ticket. They also have a pretty extensive gift shop. "Treasures’ here include your standard (t-shirts, mugs, key chains, post cards, and even a magnet with small gold flakes), a large collection of books, mining equipment, and since this is a gold mine you can find plenty of gold jewelry and other items made of the stuff. Also pick up a guide for $2 on the history of the mine and gold in NC. They do offer concessions inside and drinks machines are located outside. You will also find restrooms here as well. There are a number of picnic tables located throughout the property for use by visitors. They do participate in the passport program. The site is handicapped accessible, though access inside the mines is limited. You should allow yourself a minimum of 2 hours just to enjoy the exhibits, the mine tour, and to pan. Add more time if you plan of hiking any of the trails.
Who will like this attraction? Why everyone! This place is great for the grandkids through the grandparents. The site does a wonderful job with the exhibits which are both education and entertaining. The mine tours are a big hit with everyone. We had kids as young as 3 to plenty of grandparents in tow in our group. Little kids just seem to love any big adventure and even at 41, being in a gold mine was exciting. Panning is quite a treat for the whole family. After all who doesn’t dream of discovering untold riches? The mine plays hosts to many school and youth groups from all over every year. This is a great way to spend the day.
Groups/special events they will be glad to host your group. They do offer a number of special events through the year including the NC panning competition, the Polk-Reed History Bowl, the Carolina Heritage Festival, and a Christmas celebration. The most popular event is their Bloody Reign of the Mad Miner held the last 2 weekends in October. This event includes a haunted mine, hayrides, ghost stories, and more. And during the summer there is a unique chance for kids 9-11 to spend a day at camp learning to be a prospector.
April through October from Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5am. Panning available.
November through March from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4am. Panning not available.
Closed Sunday and Monday.
Closed major holidays.
Hours for special events can be extended or changed. Always check the web site for additional information.
There is not an admission fee. Donations are accepted and I urge you to make a donation in one of the boxes in the visitor’s center. After all it does costs money to run this stuff. $2 per person to pan. Some events may carry additional fees.
Website: www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us or www.reedmine.com