Robert Ruark was one of North Carolina’s — and the nation’s — best-known writers of the 20th century. Some critics belittled the Wilmington native as simply a “Hemingway spin-off.” Ruark admired Hemingway’s lifestyle and work, true, but that’s a simplistic and unfair characterization of the nationally known columnist and novelist.
Known as Jomeokee, “Great Guide” or “Pilot,” to the Saura who once inhabited the region, Pilot Mountain remains a towering landmark in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Northern settlers used the mountain as a guide on their journey down the Great Wagon Road. In 1968, Pilot Mountain became the fourteenth state park of North Carolina.
As a prevalent burial place for prominent North Carolinians, Riverside Cemetery continues to keeps the stories of Zebulon B. Vance, Thomas Wolfe, and O. Henry accessible to onlookers and history enthusiasts. Riverside Cemetery, an 87 acre burial plot, overshadows the French Broad River, attracting numerous tourists to its serene landscape. The cemetery was founded in 1885 and it has since remained an important cultural and historic venue in Buncombe County.
Founded in 1941, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was named in honor of Lt. Seymour Johnson. During WWII, the base served as a important training center for bomber pilots, but the camp was closed after the war. Seymour Johnson was reopened in 1956 due to the work of local political leaders, and it has since remained home to the Fourth Tactical Fighter Wing.
With an ocean to the east and in the west, North Carolina has long been a popular tourist attraction. Mineral springs in the mountains, for instance, attracted medical patients during the 1830s, and after word spread of the beautiful western landscape, tourists flocked to the state to vacation. In the piedmont region, golf resorts have been a favorite for sport enthusiasts from around the world. On the coast, Nags Head, Morehead, and Wrightsville have long remained resort towns in North Carolina.
James City emerged as a haven for free black men and women in eastern North Carolina during the Civil War. By 1865, approximately 3,000 blacks had migrated to the city, and the town thrived after the war. However, after the federal government allowed the original landowners sole ownership of James City, the black community started leaving the area. Today, nearly 700 black residents live in James City, and social organizations have sought to preserve the history of the region.
A western mountain county, Jackson is known for its interesting natural and physical characteristics, particularly the Great Smoky Mountains, the Tuskasegee River, and the Nantahala National Forest. Formed in 1851, Jackson’s county seat is the town of Sylva, and other communities include Cashiers, Glenville, and Balsam.
Sacred to the Cherokee, Judaculla Rock has long remained a tourist attraction, but also a mystery to archeologists and geologists. Located in Jackson County, the large soapstone exhibits intricate carvings that Cherokee believe were imprinted by the god of all Game Animals, Judaculla or Tsu’kalu. Yet, historians and archeologists have proposed different theories regarding the rock’s meaning.
Located in Mitchell County, the Penland School of Crafts has long been heralded as a haven for young craftsmen and women from around the world. Since its inception in the late 1920s, Penland has offered courses ranging from weaving to glassworking to silversmithing. Today, 1,200 people attend the school annually, and a vibrant, local crafts culture surrounds the school.
Operating from July 1861 until February 1865, the Confederate Prison at Salisbury held nearly 10,000 Union soldiers during the Civil War. The prison was the only one of its kind in North Carolina, and overcrowding and poor prison conditions led to the deaths of many Union prisoners of war. Today, the Salisbury National Cemetery honors those who died at the prison garrison.