European settlement near the Pamlico River in the 1690s led to the creation of Bath, North Carolina’s first town, in 1705. The town’s location seemed ideal with easy access to the river and the Atlantic Ocean 50 miles away at Ocracoke Inlet.
Author: North Carolina History Project
Adventurer John Lawson booked passage for the New World and sailed from Cowes, England on May 1, 1700. An acquaintance who had been to America assured Lawson "that Carolina was the best country I could go to," and the young traveler was eager to see Britain’s colony in the New World. After a harried ocean voyage lasting nearly three months, Lawson’s ship put in at New York Harbor. In late August, following a brief stay in New York, Lawson sailed for the bustling colonial port of Charleston. By December, the young adventurer had been given a daunting task. The Lords Proprietors — wealthy Englishmen appointed by the Crown to govern the settlement of Carolina — assigned John Lawson to conduct a reconnaissance survey of the interior of the province. The Carolina backcountry at that time was an unknown and forbidding place. There were no adequate maps, and little was known about the Native American inhabitants of the region — including their attitude toward English settlers.
One of the largest and most ornate buildings in colonial North Carolina, the Tryon Palace was built in the late 1760s at the behest of its namesake, Royal Governor William Tryon. John Hawks was the architect, and the government assembly chambers and the house were dedicated on December 5, 1770. Increased taxes to pay for the palace’s construction angered many Piedmont colonists. After the American Revolution, the palace burnt down in a fire in 1798. In 1959, after efforts to restore the site, Tryon Palace opened as the state’s first historic site.
North Carolina’s Executive Mansion is not only home to the Governor, it is the “people’s house.” The building is also a meeting space, historic site, and an elegant event location. In addition, thousands of visitors visit during public tour season and during the holiday open house.
Located on the Roanoke River, the town of Halifax developed into a commercial and political center around the time of the American Revolution. A guided walking tour takes you into several authentically restored and furnished buildings. These include the 1760 home of a merchant, the house and law office of a 19th-century attorney, and the 1808 home of a wealthy landowner. The 1833 clerk’s office, a jail, Eagle Tavern, and a unique archaeological exhibit are also featured on the tour.
Mountain pioneers built their cabins in the high valleys and coves of western North Carolina. The Vance family pioneer homestead is nestled in picturesque Reems Creek valley, shadowed by the mountains of the Blue Ridge. Members of this family included five outstanding men of character, each of whose lives was marked by service to the people of North Carolina in local, state, and national capacities.
See the early home, factories, and farm where Washington Duke first grew and processed tobacco. Duke’s sons later founded The American Tobacco Company, the largest tobacco company in the world. The tour includes the Duke family’s restored home, an early factory, a curing barn, and a packhouse. The Tobacco Museum exhibits traces tobacco history from Native American times to the present.
Congress established Kill Devil Hills National Memorial on March 2, 1927 to commemorate Wilbur and Orville Wright and their contribution to aeronautics and for conducting the world’s first successful heavier-than air flight.
Somerset Place is a representative state historic site offering a comprehensive and realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. Originally, this atypical plantation included more than 100,000 densely wooded, mainly swampy acres bordering the five-by-eight mile Lake Phelps, in present-day Washington County. During its 80 years as an active plantation (1785-1865), hundreds of acres were converted into high yielding fields of rice, corn, oats, wheat, beans, peas, and flax; sophisticated sawmills turned out thousands of feet of lumber. By 1865, Somerset Place was one of the upper South’s largest plantations.
The people who lived at the Town Creek site during its heyday have been referred to as the "Pee Dee Indians" and their distinctive lifestyle, the "Pee Dee Culture." The site itself is located on the west bank of the Little River near its confluence with Town Fork Creek, in Montgomery County. A few miles downstream the Little River flows into the Pee Dee [River], which becomes the Great Pee Dee as it cuts through northeastern South Carolina to empty into the Atlantic Ocean.