#1 AMERICA'S FAVORITE TOWN 2014-Travel & Leisure
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This site provides "the best" of Beaufort - highlights of our historic town 
and harbor - that which makes Beaufort unique.

The SIDEBAR includes a large photo album, calendars of EVENTS, TOURS, ACCOMMODATIONS, SHOPS, GALLERIES, FOOD & DRINK, maps, clubs and organizations, town government  and other Beaufort sites.

Maritime Museum

Visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort for a taste of coastal cultures and maritime history. Exhibits feature the state’s rich seafood industry, sailboats, motorboats, life-saving stations, lighthouses and more. The Museum is the official repository for artifacts from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground near Beaufort in 1718.

The "Friends of the Museum" work with the museum by underwriting new projects, purchasing equipment, funding educational and public awareness programs and acquiring land and facilities needed for expansion.Their combined effort offers programs such as "Build a Boat in a Day," Sailing Programs, Beaufort Oars, Junior Sailing, Sea Scouts, Summer Science School and much more, including the annual Wooden Boat Show. 
In January 2004, the museum staff, including Natural Science Curator Keith Rittmaster, responded quickly to the news of a beached whale; they buried the dead creature on the beach. Four years later, when the bones were exhumed, the team found a whale-skeleton puzzle of more than 200 bones, bone fragments and teeth.

After the bones traveled to N.C. State University for "de-greasing"—a process to keep the skeleton from dripping oil and creating bad odors—the team set up an off-site work facility. A dedicated team spent four more years cleaning and reassembling the skeleton. The skeleton is now suspended above the main exhibit hall in the North Carolina Maritime Museum on Front Street.

As part of the whaling exhibit, visitors are able to use interactive touch screens to learn more. Whaling tools, equipment and images also help tell the story of those who braved the sea off the Outer Banks of North Carolina in pursuit of these huge creatures.  

The earliest history goes back to 1666 when New England sailing vessels cruised North Carolina waters in pursuit of sperm and right whales. A lease in 1723 allowed Governor Burrington, Christopher Gale and John Lovick to take whales along the coast between Cape Fear and Currituck Inlet for a term of seven years. A whaling license was issued to Samuel Chadwick
in 1726. Chadwick and three other residents of Carteret Precinct were permitted to whale with three boats. More about Samuel Chadwick the Whaler…  

Fort Macon

During the 18th and 19th centuries the area around Beaufort and Beaufort Inlet was highly vulnerable to attack. The construction of Fort Dobbs was begun in 1756 during the French and Indian War, but when the war ended the fort was never completed. Early in the 1800s a small masonry fort was built that guarded the inlet during the War of 1812. Shoreline erosion and a hurricane had swept Fort Hampton into Beaufort Inlet by 1825. 

The War of 1812 demonstrated the weakness of existing coastal defenses. The United States government began construction on an improved chain of coastal fortifications. This undertaking involved the construction of thirty-eight new, permanent coastal forts known as the Third System. As part of this system, pentagon-shaped 26-casemate Fort Macon, with a ditch separating its covertway and inner citadel, was designed by Brigadier General Simon Bernard and built by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The fort was named for native North Carolinian Nathaniel Macon (1758–1837), who served in the Revolutionary War and as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, until he returned to his home state and served in the state senate. Construction began in 1826. Using brick made in the area and masons from Beaufort and other parts of the country, the US Army Corps of Engineers completed the fort in December, 1834. Total cost of the fort was $463,790. 

(turn down volume before opening, then adjust for comfort)
Fort Macon ALBUM of 1862 Drawings and Etchings

Rachel Carson Estuary Reserve

Rachel Carson Photo Album
86 Images with Informational Captions
The Rachel Carson Reserve, part of Carolina Estuarine Reserve Foundation, is located near the mouth of the Newport River in southern Carteret County, directly across Taylor's Creek from the historic town of Beaufort. This site is a complex of islands: Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island. These islands are more than three miles long and less than a mile wide, covering 2,315 acres.

The Rachel Carson Reserve is open to the public for enjoyment. Fishing, boating, sailing kayaking, shell-fishing and shelling are all common activities on and around the site. Town Marsh, Carrot Island and Bird Shoal receive the most use because of their easy access by boat or kayak.

The island of Town Marsh has a marked self-guided trail. Visiting the Carrot Island boardwalk (directly across Taylor's Creek from the boat ramp on Lennoxville Road - east end of Front Street) is a great way to learn about the estuarine environment and what plants and animals are found at the reserve. Interpretive signs provide a self-guided tour. The platform at the end of the boardwalk is a great place for birding and a view of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.

The reserve is not a place for trash. When visiting the reserve, please take your litter with you when you leave. Unleashed dogs are also a constant problem on the reserve; dogs tend to chase colonial nesting birds disrupting feeding, breeding and nesting.

Beaufort's Wild Horses
Wild-horses Collage by Bob Decker

- Cape Lookout National Seashore -

Excerpts from these two PDFs...

Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Rachel Carson Reserve are both home to wild horses. 

The horses do not swim back and forth between Shackelford Banks and RCR, but they do swim between marsh islands on their respective reserves.
If you get too close to a wild horse, you could be charged, kicked or bitten. Watch from at least 50 feet. If horses come toward you, move away or, if you can't, stay very still while they pass. Horses have the right-of-way. If a horse stops what it's doing to stare at you, stop or back up.

The wild horses are protected by law. Feeding, touching, teasing or intentionally disturbing wildlife, including horses, is dangerous and illegal. The best way to enjoy observing the wild horses is to use binoculars and watch them from afar. 

Old Burying Ground

In June 1724, the trustees of the town of Beaufort deeded to the “wardens of the Parish of St. Johns and the rest of the Vestrymen,” Old Town Lot 91. This acquisition of land is the earliest date indicating the use of the present burying ground. Although the earliest legible date of death is 1756, many of the older markers have no dates or inscriptions are illegible. 

The burying ground was enlarged in 1731, when Nathaniel Taylor gave Old Town Lot 81 to the inhabitants of the town for that purpose. The cemetery was enlarged again when the Baptists acquired part of Lot 72 in 1851, and in 1853 when the Methodists bought part of Lot 71 for a new church. 

Surrounded by a concrete wall, with recessed panels between posts topped by simple spheres, the burying ground is shaded throughout by many gnarled old trees, notably live oaks whose branches are covered by resurrection ferns, which revive after each rain. It is crowded with markers of various designs, including table stones, obelisks and official military markers. The best known is that of Otway Burns, a naval hero in the War of 1812. His grave is marked by a large box-like stone; the top is embedded with a canon from his privateer Snap Dragon.

Many of the older graves have simple vertical cypress slabs—of some 17 designs in all, each with weathered, lichen-spotted texture. Another common grave treatment is the construction, in front of a stone marker, of a grave cover of brick, usually about two feet in height, which protects the grave from being washed out in the sandy soil. Some are rounded and some are of a gabled configuration, but all run the length of the coffin. These occur singly, but more frequently are lined up in family groups. Many of the family plots are surrounded by handsome wrought and cast-iron fences. Varying from simple stones to elaborate monuments with urns, figures and crosses, many are signed, providing a museum of the stonecutter’s art during the 18th and 19th centuries. Stones come from such places as Boston, Charleston, Brooklyn and Baltimore. From North Carolina only the port city of Wilmington is represented. There are some 200 stones from the pre-Civil War era, approximately 45 from the war period, about 150 from 1865 to 1900, and a few 20th-century markers. (National Register of Historic Places)

The Beaufort Historical Association provides a self-guided brochure, which highlights several of the notable gravesites within the Old Burying Ground. Find A Grave

Resident Pirate


Captain Horatio Sinbad - Pirate in Residence
Captain Sinbad, a real merchant adventurer, has lived continuously aboard Meka II for over FOUR decades making Beaufort, NC his home port. If you are in Beaufort, look for Meka II anchored in Town Creek, seen to your left as you cross the bridge into town. He does, occasionally, take the adventurous aboard ship for "Two Hours Before the Mast". But, then again, you might not find him in port - another adventure always awaits just over the horizon...

Cape Lookout - A Ferry-ride Away

Painting by Florida Artist - Roger Bansemer

Originally built in 1812 and rebuilt in 1859, the 163 foot red brick lighthouse can be seen from 19 miles away. In 1873, the keeper's cottage - large enough to house two keepers and their families - was completed, and the tower painted. Because the four lights on the Outer Banks were so similar, the Lighthouse Board designed striking patterns for each to make them easily distinguishable. On April 14, 1873, Cape Lookout Lighthouse was painted with large checkers that appear as alternating black and white diamonds. Following the traditional day-mark aids to navigation, the black checkers are oriented north and south toward the shallow waters of the shoals and around the headlands, while the white checkers are oriented east and west facing the deeper waters. Also see, Cape Lookout & The Fulford Keepers

Restoration Grounds

In 1960 a few citizens formed the Beaufort Historical Association, to help celebrate the town's 250th birthday and also initiate plans to preserve a few aging, but historically important structures in town. After property was purchased, historic buildings were acquired and moved to the site. 

Today the site is comprised of ten buildings, six of which have been authentically restored, nestled on two acres in the heart of the quaint downtown area of Beaufort. The buildings include: the 1796 Carteret County Courthouse, the 1829 Carteret County Jail; the 1859 Apothecary Shop and Doctors Office and the 1732 Rustull House that houses the Mattie King Davis Art Gallery. Living history demonstrations, guided tours and special events vividly describe the lifestyles, customs and architecture unique to this coastal area. Volunteers in period dress provide tours for three of the buildings on the site. The BHA's red English bus also provides tours of the historic district.