National parks in North Carolina – historical and cultural heritage

North Carolina is stacked up with National Parks that you must visit. If you are a visitor or resident of this beautiful state, there are many convenient and beautiful locations to visit.  There are 13 national parks in NC. Every park has its own story and includes heritage areas, historic sites, national seashores, historic trails, and memorials. Several parks are spread across other states apart from North Carolina. Here is the list of national parks in North Carolina

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Generally known as Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail in the Eastern United States. It stretches across 14 states, from Georgia to Maine. The trail is about 2,200 miles (3,500km) long. The exact length changes over time, as parts of the trail, are rerouted and modified. It is the longest hiking-only trail in the world. The idea of the route started in 1921, but the trail itself was completed in 1937. More than 30 organizations maintain the Appalachian Trail. Constant improvements and changes continue every day. Most of the trail is in forest and wild lands, although some parts of the trail go through roads, towns, and farms. The Appalachian trail is home to thousands of species of animals and plants. Through North Carolina goes 95.7 miles (150 km) of the trail. Altitude ranges from 1,725 feet to 5,498 feet (526m to 1676m).

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway - National park in Norh Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway, 469 miles (755 km) in length, invites travelers to slow down and take a drive of a different kind. Meandering through the rugged mountains of the Appalachian highlands, this is a recreational motorway and America’s longest linear park. Began during the Great Depression, parkway provided thousands of construction jobs for the unemployed. Conceived with the ambitious goal of linking Shenandoah with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the road took 52 years to complete. 130 species of trees grow along the parkway, as many as are found in all of Europe. Those who pause along the route will discover the intricate details of nature. Every mile of the parkway passes through a cross-section of Appalachian mountain history and culture. 19th-century log cabins embraced by the natural world of Blue Rudge suggest the isolated existence of mountain families. Along the way, there are traces of early industry.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras offers a wide variety of recreational activities. It is a combination of cultural and natural resources. Stretching over 70 miles (110 km), covers the Outer Banks of North Carolina from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island. It got a nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of the dangerous storms, currents, and shoals. Cape Hatteras is famous for shipwrecks, lighthouses, and US Lifesaving Service interventions. The island is known as one of the best places on the East Coast for fishing and surfing. On Barrier island, there are three visitor centers. Visitor centers offer information and ranger programs about Cape Hatteras National Seashore. In this area, you can find a lot of campground locations for which Travel Lite truck campers can be very comfortable. Ocracoke visitors center is also famous for Ocracoke Lighthouse.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Distant from the inner shores of North Carolina in the open Atlantic stands thin and moving line of sand . South of Ocracoke inlet rises luminous bar of sand 56 miles (90 km) in extent with no roads, no bridges. Cape Lookout National Seashore is one of the few remaining natural barrier island systems in the world. Ringing the estuaries the saltmarsh is one of the most productive ecosystems on earth, providing a fertile home for the inhabitants of the wetlands. The edges of the lower marshes consist primarily of the single plant species, saltmarsh cordgrass. Resilient, flexible, able to secret salt through a special glance, cordgrass is a processor and distributor of solar energy upon which the entire estuary depends. Core Banks seashore includes two historic villages, Shackleford’s wild horses, and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. On Harkers Island, there is a visitor center.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Connemara is an elegant 245-acre site near the Blue Ridge mountains in Flat Rock, North Carolina. It was named by the previous owner because it reminded him of his ancestral home in Ireland. From 1945, until his death in 1967, it was the home of Carl Sandburg, often called The people poet. His writing style was plain, direct, and forthright. The exterior of the home was built in 1838 by the wealthy businessman Christopher Memminger. Sandburg’s bought this place to live with their children and grandchildren. To raise their prize-winning goats and a place to accommodate their personal library of over 17,000 books. They were also looking for peace and quiet, a place where the 3 time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, novelist, and screenwriter could find solitude. After Carl’s death in 1967, his wife sold the Connemara to US Government to save the house as a memorial to her husband.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Forth Raleigh is the place of establishment of Roanoke Colony. The colony was led by Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh. This was the first English settlement on the land of North America. In 1587 the colony arrived about 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the town of Manteo. The Lost Colony failed between 1587 and 1590 as the supply ships failed to arrive on time. The next time this location was visited, it was abandoned and no people were found. It is assumed that the survivors joined the local tribes. The museum in the visitors center has exhibits about the history of the Roanoke Colony, other English colonies and expeditions in this area, and Civil War history and Freedmen’s Colony. As the memorial to the first colonist, on the 10.5 acres of property over 500 species of plants make Elizabethan Gardens. On April 5, 1941, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site was established.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains - National park in Norh Carolina

Sprawling over 522,419 acres (2,114.15 km2) across the borders of two states, Tennessee, and North Carolina lies Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some of the oldest mountains in the world straddle ridge upon the ridge in this location. To the Cherokee, native Americans of this region, these were The Shackanog, meaning, blue like smoke. Fog lies sleepily in the valleys and clings to the forests like ghostly shrouds. Mountains are called The Smokies and it is a place of wonders. Some of the highest mountains in North America, including Clingmans Dome, Mount Guyot, and Mount Le Conte are part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Apart from mountains, waterfalls, biodiversity, and spruce-fir forests create an amazing landscape. As the most visited national park in the United States, the park generates approximately, 2.5 billion dollars annually to the local economy.

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

Place where Battle of Guilford Court House was fought on March 17, 1781. This battle marked the beginning of the victorious campaign that America led in the Revolutionary War. Defeated British in this battle surrendered seven months later at Yorktown. The park is preserved as the National Military Park to witness the legendary battle. Since the interpretation of the battle changed in the late 20th century based on historical evidence, the set up of monuments and markers has changed over the years. There is a possibility that this park wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for David Schenck. In 1886 he bought the land of Guilford Courthouse with the intention to turn it into a park. Next year he started a non-profit Guilford Battle Ground Company (GBGC). In 1917 the US Congress declared Guilford Courthouse as a national military park. The GBGC turned over its 125 acres for free.

Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is significant beyond the African-American community because it has greatly influenced all of the American cultural fabric. It is because of the Gullah Geechee people that the economies of major cities in the South were established. The corridor is a four states national heritage area. It extends from Wilmington, North Carolina throughout the coast of the Atlantic ocean, all the way down to Saint Augustine, Florida. Cultural Heritage Act was established in 2006, and it is the only national heritage area in the United States that promotes the living culture of the African-American population. Gullah Geechee’s are direct descendants of African people who were imported into the United States around the 1700s as slaves. Because they were separated from white people, the Gullah Geechee developed a creole culture that has preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage.


Recommended reading:


Moores Creek National Battlefield

The first battle of the revolution in North Carolina happened on February 27, 1776. The field witnessed a victory of thousand patriots against around eight hundred loyalists. With this defeat, the British plan to land invasion stopped. The Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence from British ruling on July 4., 1776. The national military park was established in 1926, but later in 1980, it was declared as a national battlefield. The patriots set up an ambush at the Moores Creek bridge, they removed the planks. This forced the loyalist to cross the bridge in a single line. The patriots then hit with muskets and cannon fire forcing enemy soldiers to either surrender or retreat in confusion. A lot of gold, weapons, and goods were seized that, and following days. It is estimated that the patriots seized more than 1 million dollars today’s value.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is 330 miles (530 km) long corridor. Brave soldiers, called Overmountain Men marched this route to fight the British army in the Revolutionary War. 57 miles (92 km) of this route are officially open for public use today. Organizations and associations involved in the maintenance of this trial are working on making the rest of the route accessible for public use. Currently accessible sections of the trail were established through agreements with landowners. Parts of the trail that are certified for use are identified by the trail logo. Trail logo is an Overmountain man in profile on a brown and white triangle or a white triangular blaze. Alongside this route travels Commemorative Motor Route parallelly and on some occasions, it crosses the old history roadway.

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

For thousands of years, the Appalachian mountains were home to the Cherokee. In 1819 as more and more Americans started encroaching on Indian land the US Government signed a treaty that guaranteed that Cherokee land will be off-limits for white settlers forever. Confident in promises of the US Government, Cherokee built themselves a new capital in 1825, what is known today as New Echota, Georgia. It had its own courthouse, council house, post office, and even space for the first-ever Indian language newspaper office in the nation. In 1830, US President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian removal act. He believed that Indians were savages and had no right to their own land. Thousands of Native Americans were forced out of their homes, and to move to Oklahoma. On this route, more than a third of 15,000 Cherokees died. That is how it got its name, Trail of Tears.

Wright Brothers National Memorial

First flight ever - National park in Norh Carolina

This place commemorates the sight of the first successful human attempt at controlled flight. This flight was famously carried out on December 17, 1903, by Orvel and Wilbur Wright, more commonly known as the Wright Brothers. In their 20s they operated their own printing business. Soon enough they decided to use their mechanical knowledge to start a bicycle repair, and eventually a bicycle design company. Bicycles brought them success and money, which they invested in the area of experimental flight. Building on the ideas of others in the field of flight, they began with building experimental aircraft. They invented 3 axes aircraft controls that made the fixed-wing flight possible. On December 14, 1903, Wilburn made a 3-second flight attempt. The first flight by Orvel on December 17, at 10:35, am traveled 120 feet and 12 seconds, at a speed of 6.8 mph.

Author: Haris