50 States in 50 Days: North Carolina – From the Blue Ridge Mountains to Blackbeard and the Biltmore

Posted by: Samuel Gabel, Public Affairs Section Assistant

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Whitewater Falls. Photographer: Anonymous
Whitewater Falls. Photographer: Anonymous

When I think of my visits to North Carolina the thought conjures up images of smiling faces, woodland adventures in the Appalachian Mountains, and the sound of beautiful old-timey music.

North Carolina is a land full of natural beauty, ranging from the lovely streams, waterfalls, and forests of the Appalachians to the sunny beaches of the Outer Banks. Nantahala National Forest is a great place for those who love the outdoors. Here, one can see the frothing waters and hear the roar of Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. One can bike, hike, or even ride on horseback through the beautiful wooded hills. One can also raft through the foaming waters of the Nantahala River Gorge. Blessed with a number of fine beaches and great windsurfing conditions, the coastal regions are another great place to enjoy the outdoors.

Chimney Rock. Photographer: Marcel Houweling (Flickr)
Chimney Rock. Photographer: Marcel Houweling (Flickr)

In addition to its great outdoors, North Carolina has some great indoors as well, as embodied in the elegant Biltmore. The colossal chateau was built by the famous Vanderbilt family, in the woods near Asheville, as there woodland dream house. It is said to be the largest private dwelling built in America. Various tours are offered, as well as an opportunity to enjoy an overnight stay in the gorgeous mansion. In addition to the 135,000 square foot mansion, the Biltmore estate has acres of beautiful gardens and woods.

As well as beautiful sights, NC is also home to the beautiful sounds of traditional American Old Time Music and Bluegrass. Fans of these Appalachian styles of music gather in numerous festivals across the state.

The North Carolina coast is home to a history that might be best described as haunting. It was here in the coastal waters of North Carolina that the dreaded pirate Blackbeard was killed and beheaded. To this day, his ghost is said to roam parts of North Carolina’s coast, searching for his lost head. His sunken ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered at the bottom of Beaufort Inlet. Artifacts from the ship can be seen at the Beaufort Maritime Museum.

Kites over NC beach. Photographer: Anonoymous
Kites over NC beach. Photographer: Anonoymous

Blackbeard isn’t the only ghostly thing in North Carolina’s history. There is also the tale of the vanishing colony. One of the first English colonies in America was established on Roanoke Island. The head of the colony, John White, left for England to obtain more supplies. When he came back, the colony had vanished. The houses had collapsed and not a soul was to be seen. Some say the

Appalachian music fest. Photographer: Anonymous
Appalachian music fest. Photographer: Anonymous

colonists died in attacks by the natives. Others say that they went to live with a native tribe, and were eventually absorbed by it. To this day, no one knows for sure what happened to the colonists. Today Roanoke Island is home to a museum, and lovely Elizabethan style gardens set up as a memorial to the lost colony. There is also, an outdoor theater where a large and talented cast performs a play about the story of the colonists.

In summary, if you are looking for a place with beaches, music, mountains, or mystery, North Carolina is a place worth your haunting.

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