Brief history of the Carolina Coast

The Winyaw and Waccamaw Indians used Myrtle Beach SC area as a part time residence. They called the area Chicora or the land.

The Spanish were the first Europeans to settle the Carolina Coast. They established a settlement in the Cape Fear region in 1520. The Spanish settlers numbered around 500. Because of disease, they relocated to South Carolina. In the new settlement, disease broke out again. There numbers dwindled to about 150. The settlement was abandoned in 1526.

The first recorded exploration of the NC coast was in 1524 by the explorer Giovanni Verrazano who detailed the exploration from Hatteras to Cape Fear. The report was published in 1582 by the Englishman Richard Hakluyt.


Sir Walter Raleigh petitioned for rights to establish a colony in the area. He was granted these rights in 1584 by Queen Elizabeth 1. The expedition led by Sir Walter Raleigh landed on Roanoke Island in 1584. Sir Walter Raleigh named the area Virginia after Queen Elizabeth 1st who was often referred to as the Virgin Queen.

The first child born in the Carolina colony was Virginia Dare.

North and South Carolina were one prior to the late 1600s when King Charles II divided the colony so it would be easier to manage.

In the early 1700s, Pirates Stede Bonnett and Blackbeard (Edward Teach) terrorized the NC coastline. The many coves and treacherous waters made it ideal for hiding out. Blackbeard's flagship was called the Queen Anne's Revenge. It was sunk around Ocracoke Island where Blackbeard was reported killed. Blackbeard had a house in Bath and a wife. The house is supposedly haunted by Blackbeard's spirit. The flagship has recently been thought to have been found in Beaufort Inlet.

The town of Bath was established in 1706, New Bern 1710 and then Beaufort in 1763.

In colonial days, the main road through North Carolina near the coast was called the Kings Highway now it is US 17.


walking on the beach pictureWilmington was established as a deep water port in 1732. Morehead City was another deep water port.

The Palmetto tree was used to build Fort Moultrie in 1776. It was built to guard against British Attack. The Palmetto tree is soft wood and absorbed the bomb shelling of British during the American Revolution. The tree saved Fort Moultrie from being captured by the British. The state adopted the tree afterwards. The Palmetto tree is the motto and state emblem of South Carolina

South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. Fort Sumter fired the first shots of the Civil War on April 12, 1861. General Beauregard was the commander of the Confederate Troops. Major Anderson was the commander of the Union troops at Fort Sumter. The Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter for 34 hours until Major Anderson surrendered on April 13. The Fort was decommissioned in 1947 and put into the Park Service. There is a self guided tour and a museum with Civil War artifacts. The Fort is only accessible by boat as it is in the Charleston harbor.

During the Civil War, the area around Wilmington and Morehead City were taken by Confederate troops. Fort Fisher was built to guard the port of Wilmington against Union troops. Fort Macon which was built in the 1830s. Robert E. Lee was in charge of building the Fort. It guarded the Morehead City area. In 1862, Union ships began blockading the NC coast. Because of the coves, inlets and treacherous waters, blockade runners were still able to smuggle arms and other commodities into NC. Cape Hatteras was taken early in the war by Union troops.

The Outer Banks is known as the graveyard of the Atlantic because countless ships have been sunk here. In 1874, the US government established the US life saving service. They also began improving the lighthouses on the NC coast.

In 1903, the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane glider at Kill Devil Hills. They sent a telegraph from Kitty Hawk telling of the flight. That's why most everyone thinks the first flight took place at Kitty Hawk. The Wright Brothers were from Ohio.

In 1942, German U boats attacked Merchant shipping off Cape Hatteras. It was nicknamed torpedo Junction. There is a British cemetery on Oracoke Island where British sailors are buried. These sailors were from a British ship that was torpedoed during WWII.