The East

Travel with Carolina Preserves to eastern North Carolina, where our memories are preserved with the scent of saltwater.

Bland Simpson, author and musician, talks about the importance of water and the ocean in our life. He also travels to the Great Dismal Swamp, one of the largest remaining wild swamps in America.

Betty Ray McCain, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, reminisces about her life growing up in a small town in eastern North Carolina.

James Rose, from the Rose family of shipbuilders, remembers back to his childhood when he would take a skiff onto the water to hear the shantymen sing while they fished.


Eastern Journey

The ocean breaks on a sandy beach as the morning fog burns off under the sun. Eastern North Carolina, where the first British colonists landed and our heritage is preserved with the smell of saltwater.

"Old Baldy" Lighthouse

The oldest lighthouse in North Carolina, "Old Baldy" on Bald Head Island, has lit up the night since 1817. While the light no longer functions, the lighthouse remains a beacon of North Carolina's past for thousands of tourists each year. The Old Baldy Foundation, created in 1985, has protected, maintained and refurbished the lighthouse and thanks to their dedicated work the public can once again climb to the top of "Old Baldy" and look out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Contact: Ferry dockmaster (800) 234-1666

"The Lost Colony" at Roanoke Island

In 1590 John White returned to the first English colony in America to find all 150 settlers mysteriously gone and the word "Croatoan" carved in a tree. The mystery has never been solved; no one ever discovered what happened to the colonists who had originally landed on Roanoke Island. In 1937 "The Lost Colony," written by Paul Green, debuted at the waterside amphitheater on Roanoke Island. Over the last 63 years, "The Lost Colony" has entertained thousands, retelling the story of the original colonists and their mysterious disappearance.

Contact: 800-488-5012.

Kill Devil Hills

On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made the first controlled, powered flight in history at Kill Devil Hills, south of Kitty Hawk, on the Outer Banks. The Wright brothers brought their plane in pieces from Ohio to the Outer Banks due to the consistent high winds that would help them stay aloft. In 1932, a 60-foot monument was dedicated to their accomplishments, and it stands to this day near the dune where the Wright Brothers made their first flight.

Contact: (252) 441-7430

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station

Congress established the United States Life Saving Service in 1873 to patrol the coasts and save shipwrecked sailors. The next year, the lifesaving station at Chicamacomico on Hatteras Island was created. This station became one of the most famous stations in the country in 1918 when six brave rescuers leapt into a fiery ocean to save 47 men from a torpedoed boat. Now open to the public from May through October, this station has been preserved thanks to the efforts of the Chicamacomico Historical Association. Exhibits at the stations include a live reenactment of a dramatic rescue at sea once every weekend from mid-June until Labor Day.

Contact: (919) 987-2401

The CSS Neuse

In March 1865, the ironclad CSS Neuse was scuttled by retreating Confederate soldiers as Union troops marched on Kinston. Nearly a century later, a group of businessmen collected enough funds to raise the Neuse from the bottom of the river. Nearly 15,000 artifacts were recovered from the Neuse, providing insight into 19th century naval warfare and the early life of the ironclad. The CSS Neuse is currently housed in the Caswell Memorial park where an annual living history reenactment portrays the life of Civil War soldiers camped alongside the Neuse river.

Contact: (919) 522-2091

North Carolina Aquariums

North Carolina's three aquariums, located on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, house some of the most unique creatures that inhabit North Carolina's environs. All three aquariums have touch tanks that provide children and adults an opportunity to get closer to these beautiful creatures living in our oceans and waterways. The aquariums on Roanoke Island and at Pine Knoll Shores are open year-round while the aquarium at Fort Fisher is currently closed while undergoing renovation.


Roanoke Island (252) 473-3493
Pine Knoll Shores (252) 247-4003
Fort Fisher (910) 458-8257

The Great Dismal Swamp

For thousands of years the Great Dismal Swamp has fascinated men with its dark, damp interior. Indians hunted game in its heart, early colonists tried to drain it and, during the Industrial Revolution, timber men came to harvest its trees. Although it is only a fraction of its original size the Dismal Swamp still fascinates us. Great works of literature have sung its praise and mythic folklore has sprung up around it. Preserved today by the Nature Conservancy, its future seems safe at last.

Contact: (252) 771-8333


Bland Simpson
Novelist and musician


"At the midnight hour we wandered out onto a deck that was snug against the dunes, and there found what we had come for, drawn without knowing why or what for all this way up the Outer Banks. We sat alone together beneath the Full Wolf's unalloyed brilliance, staring up in awe at an enormous double ring around the moon, two perfect concentric silver wheels filling the coastal night sky and rolling us imperceptibly along with them into a vast and endless future."


Bland Simpson is a historian, author, musician and storyteller. His own childhood growing up around Elizabeth City has since inspired his many tales of coastal life and history. He recalls the legacy of heroic lifesavers that once populated the outer banks, leaving their now-famous names to their descendants along with the names of the lifesaving stations themselves.

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Betty Ray McCain
NC Department of Cultural Resources


"Most of us love our hometowns, and I rejoice that my beloved cousins, friends and the current residents have maintained that special kindness, that real neighborliness, that encouraging aura that has enabled Faison to launch us all on our life's pathway and has left us with memories that sustain us. Yes, the South and Faison are very special places."


Betty Ray McCain has, for many years, been active in community service. She serves on numerous boards and commissions, and as Secretary leads many efforts at preserving North Carolina's history and heritage.

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James Rose
Boat builder and waterman


"I learned boat building from observing the best. My distant cousins started the original Rose Brother's Boat Works. Dad worked with Earl Rose, the noted builder. When fishing was off, Dad built boats. He was strong - his biceps were as hard as a piece of black walnut. Swinging a three pound maul, he drove the spikes deep into the hull of the ship. Imagine - the builders worked beneath the hull, swinging their mauls upward!

Mostly, I built skiffs, like the flat bottom Core Sounder; schooners; trawlers; and re-creations of famous boats. My miniatures are made the same way full-size crafts are built. Some of the wooden-hull boats I make are centuries-old designs. I could build them blindfolded."


From an early age, James Rose absorbed everything there is to know about boats from his grandfather and father. He can build 100 different designs but has never used written plans. His models of authentic North Carolina working boats are as rich and detailed as the stories he tells about his memories of working on the water.

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