North Carolinians are lucky to live within reach of both rugged mountain vistas and beautiful beaches as the Blue Ridge Mountains trail through the western part of the state. And more than 320 miles of Atlantic Coast shoreline make up the Tar Heel State’s eastern border.
Yet, it’s the rich history of North Carolina State Parks and Historic Sites that draw many visitors each year.
A Brief Overview of North Carolina History
North Carolina was one of the original 13 colonies and a leader in the decision to break away from British rule, which ultimately initiated the Revolutionary War. It was also one of 11 states to secede from the United States, sparking the Civil War in 1861.
Surprisingly there were no Civil War battles fought on North Carolina soil. However, the state sent more Confederate soldiers to fight on behalf of the rebels than any other state.
Then in December of 1903, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, became famous as the site where Orville and Wilbur Wright launched the first powered airplane. The flight lasted a mere 12 seconds—nevertheless changing the course of history.
Although little action took place in North Carolina during the Civil War, the state played a significant role in World War II, holding some 10,000 enemy soldiers in 18 different prisoner camps.
In the early 1900s, North Carolina was a heavy-hitter in the southern states, cranking out billions of dollars per year in textile goods, tobacco products and furniture.
As the years progressed toward a new millennium, North Carolina held its standing as a progressive and economically desirable state for businesses of all kinds—from pork production to major-league sports and everything in between!
What About North Carolina State Parks?
As you might guess, the rich natural beauty of North Carolina has made preserving all aspects of this vast landscape ever-important to those who call the state ‘home.’
According to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, the North Carolina State Parks system is now more than 100 years old, having celebrated its centennial in 2016. The state also touts being home to one of the very first US state parks—Mount Mitchell, which is located one hour northeast of Asheville, North Carolina, and has a rich and controversial history of its very own.
If you’re interested in digging deeper into North Carolina State Park history, you can find pictures and videos here.
Historic North Carolina State Park Destinations
There are more than 25 authentic historical sites, in addition to the unique stories and landmarks found in various North Carolina State Parks.
Here are just a few destination suggestions that history buffs (and nature lovers) would find especially interesting.
- Historic Bath
- Gorges State Park
- Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site
- Carolina Beach State Park
- Bennett Place Historic Site
- Biltmore Estate
- Shackleford Banks
- Mount Mitchell State Park
- House in the Horseshoe Historic Site
- Duke Homestead Historic Site
- Eno River State Park
- Alamance Battleground Historic Site
- President James K. Polk Historic Site
- Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve
- Ocracoke Beach
There are so many more North Carolina State Parks with historical significance. Yet, hopefully, this mix of parks and historic sites dispersed throughout the state will give you a few new places to add to your bucket list!
A History Enthusiasts Log Book
You can find stories and landmarks memorializing days gone by in every state. But there is something unique about the diverse landscapes of North Carolina that can instantly connect you to the south’s rich heritage.
And for those naturally curious about geology, geography, ecology and history, a North Carolina State Parks Bucket Journal is a must!
All of the parks listed above (plus many others) have individual pages in this easy-to-use journal to record your exciting discoveries at each—plus some blank journal pages to create your own historical additions!
What is your favorite historical spot to visit in North Carolina State Parks?