Sunday, November 11, 2018

Olive Branch

OLIVE BRANCH - Located in Union County along NC 218, Olive Branch is a small community located east of  Gourdvine Creek.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Cape Lookout National Seashore

What may be the prettiest area of North Carolina is also one of the more difficult parts of the state to get to.   With the exception of the Visitors Center on Harkers Island, Cape Lookout National Seashore is only accessible via boat.  At least five different ferry points allow access to different locations along the barrier islands from the mainland.  Cape Lookout National Seashore is popular for camping, fishing, surfing, exploring, or just getting away for the day.

One of the more popular spots to visit within the National Seashore is the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.  There are a number of passenger boat operations from Harkers Island that will take you on the three mile ride to the lighthouse.

The 163 foot tall lighthouse was built in 1859 and is the second lighthouse to guide ships around the dangerous waters off the coast of the Southern Outer Banks.  The first lighthouse was constructed in 1812 and stood only 93' tall.  The current lighthouse, authorized for construction in 1857 at a cost of $45,000, is accompanied by a two story keeper's home.  The home, which was built in 1873, now serves as a museum.

Also in 1873, the lighthouse gained its distinctive diamond checkered daymark.  What is unique about the black and white diamonds is that they are navigation oriented.  The center of black diamonds point north-south while the center of the white diamonds point east-west.

The lighthouse is now available for visitors to climb.  It is 207 steps to the top and the view of the open Atlantic, mainland, and the Core and Shackleford Banks is said to be amazing.  Unfortunately, when I visited the lighthouse in July 2008 - climbing to the top of the lighthouse was not available.

In addition to the lighthouse, Cape Lookout National Seashore has many other points of interest.  At the north end of park is the site of former Portsmouth Village.  This coastal village was a small but important port during colonial times.  The village was chartered in 1753 but officially abandoned in 1971.  Today, there are 21 buildings of the coastal community preserved as part of the park.

Along the southern boundary of the park sits the Shackleford Banks.  This barrier island is well known for the wild horses that inhabit the island.  It is also a popular location for fishing, hiking, and camping.

Cape Lookout National Seashore preserves nearly 56 miles of coastline along the Southern Outer Banks.  The seashore was authorized into the National Park System on March 10, 1966.

All photos taken by post author - July 2008

Further Reading:
Getting There:

Saturday, September 15, 2018


Stanley has always reminded me of a downtown you would find out west.  Businesses along Main Street are fronted with covered sidewalks.  This is very similar to some of the towns I have seen in Texas.  Two of the main businesses along South Main Street, The WoodShed and Bill Wither's Specialized Services, have a western appeal to it.

Stanley is located in Northeast Gaston County off of NC Highway 27.  Settlements near the town date to the 1700s.  The town was originally incorporated in 1879 as Brevard Station.  In the early 1860's, Robert Alexander Brevard allowed a railroad station to be built on their family land.  The area was also known as Stanley Creek.  Stanley Creek was named after a gold prospector that resided in the area in the 1700s. (1)

During the late 1800's, Brevard Station was renamed Stanley Creek.  Stanley Creek was already the name of a nearby post office.  That post office was originally named Brevard Station but concerns over confusion with the Western mountains town of Brevard prompted that name change. (1)  The town name was shortened to Stanley in 1911.

Stanley is known as "A Friendly Place" and hosts their annual "Country Fest" the first Friday and Saturday in October.  The Brevard Station Museum, founded in 1991, is an excellent resource to learn more about the history of this Gaston County town.

Further Reading:
Getting There:

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Sparta Walkabout

Located in North Carolina's High Country, the Alleghany County Seat of Sparta is one of many small towns nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains.  At just under 3,000 feet in elevation, the town of just over 1,700 residents is a popular spot for vacationers wishing for a break in the heat during the Summer or to enjoy the colors of Autumn. 

Sparta is actually the third name for the town.  It was originally named Bower's Store when founded in 1825.  Twenty-one years later - the town was renamed Gap Civil.  Finally, when the town was incorporated in 1879, the name Sparta - after the city in ancient Greece - stuck.  But there's another twist to the town's name.  Sparta is the SECOND North Carolina community to be named Sparta.  In Edgecombe County, there is a community called Old Sparta that sits along the Tar River.  Old Sparta was originally named Sparta.  The community which was established in 1829 changed its name to Old Sparta in 1903 so it would not be confused with the town over 200 miles to the west.

Sparta is located along US Highway 21.  At one point, US 21 ran from Cleveland to the Atlantic Coast in South Carolina.  US 21 now begins 40 miles to the north in Wytheville, Virginia.  A group of local businesses are trying to promote travel along US 21 from Wytheville to Harmony, NC.  Many of the businesses in Sparta have special US 21 signs to promote the organization.  One of the larger events the organization sponsors is the 21 Road Market.  This over 100 mile event runs annually during the last weekend of July.

Sparta also hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year.  From weekly farmer's markets in the Summer, regular performances by the Crouse House Pickers, or the annual Mountain Heritage Festival held every September, there are many reasons to visit. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018


Scottville - Community located on US 221 at the Alleghany/Ashe County line.  It was originally known as Flint Hill when settled in 1830.  A post office was established here in 1855 and the area was renamed Scottville.  Believed to be named after a nearby resident Elizabeth Scott.  The post office closed in 1954.

Interestingly, there are six communities within North Carolina that are or were once named Flint Hill.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Twin Oaks

Twin Oaks - Alleghany County Community where US 21 and 221 meet.  Named for a pair of tall oak trees that stood nearby.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Laurel Springs

Laurel Springs - Located at where NC 18 and 88 meet in Southwestern Alleghany County.  The community of Laurel Springs was settled around 1859 and named after a nearby spring that was flowing from laurel covered rocks.  There is still an operating Post Office here.

Popular Posts