The North Carolina




Visitor Center

Welcome to the North Carolina Visitor Center

From the mountains to the coast and all points in between

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Tryon Palace

North Carolina's first capitol—where governors ruled, legislators debated, patriots gathered, and George Washington danced. Meticulously reconstructed in the 1950's, the original Tryon Palace was built between 1767 and 1770 for colonial Governor Tryon as the first permanent capitol of North Carolina. Today visitors to the complex marvel at the palace's English antiques, stroll its renowned gardens, and learn about various periods of New Bern's proud history at the Academy Museum as well as the Stanly, Hay, and Dixon houses.

Courageous colonel is County’s Namesake

By Nell Skinner Lyon

In the fall of 1943, I first became aware of Col. Thomas Robeson Jr., Bladen County patriot of the Revolutionary War, for whom Robeson County was named. I wanted to know more about the man for whom my county was named, the major brains and brawn behind the Whigs’ defeat of the Tories, or Loyalists who were faithful to King George in the Battle of Elizabethtown, a decisive battle of the Revolutionary War.

Family background

Andrew Robeson Jr., Col. Robeson’s grandfather, was born in Scotland around 1654. Andrew, who was educated at Oxford, immigrated to Philadelphia at age 36. He quickly became active in business affairs and involved in colonial government.

Their fourth son, the first Thomas Robeson, father of Robeson County’s namesake, came to North Carolina after the death of Andrew in 1719 or 1720. He located on the northwest branch of the Cape Fear River, about 70 miles from Wilmington. This site is in the present Bladen County town of Tar Heel, about 19 miles northeast of Lumberton.

The new Carolinian married a local girl named Sarah Singletary, daughter of Richard Singletary, and they built a home on his property named Walnut Grove. It was on this original Robeson plantation that Thomas Jr., as well as his brother Peter and sister Mary, were born and raised.

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Kickin' Up Dust at the Orange Speedway

By Sidney Cruze


Hillsborough native Carey Bateman was 12 when he saw his first NASCAR race at the Occoneechee Speedway in 1959. He and his friends waded across the Eno River, clamored up the bank, and snuck into the infield to see Cotton Owens and Lee Petty battle for first place. The speedway hosted two races each year, and for the next six years Bateman, a redheaded kid living across the river from the track’s backstretch, saw them all. It was here that he first met Robert “Junior” Johnson, who nicknamed him “Red.” Now, more than 40 years later, Bateman visits the speedway almost once a week. He is one of three trail stewards for the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail (HOST).

The 44-acre property sits on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to the only surviving speedway from NASCAR’s inaugural 1949 season. A three-mile walking trail now crisscrosses the clay track carved out of the floodplain by Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles driven by the likes of Ned Jarrett and Fireball Roberts. The trail opened to the public in September 2003.

History of the Speedway

Located east of Hillsborough, the speedway site has a rich history dating back to the 17th century. The Occoneechee band of the Saponi Nation made their home here, living off the fertile ground and abundant wildlife of the Eno River Valley. In the late 1800s, General Julian Carr owned the land, and it became known as Occoneechee Farm. Carr raced horses and built a large barn and a half-mile racetrack on the farm. You can still see the gray stone walls that marked its grand entryway before it was subdivided into several smaller farms.

In the 1940s, NASCAR founder William France flew over Occoneechee Farm in one of his adventures as a pilot. From the air he could see the horse track and an expanse of open land along the river – the perfect venue for a mile-long automobile racetrack. France launched his new racing association in December of 1947, and in January of 1948 he purchased the land with help from Enoch Stanley and three other investors. By June of 1948 cars were roaring down the oval dirt track kicking up dust. The 20-year lifespan of the notorious Occoneechee Speedway had begun.

The NASCAR Strictly Stock Series, now the Winston Cup Series, was born in 1949. In April of that year, 17,000 screaming fans filled the stadium seats to cheer their favorite drivers to victory. As one of only three East Coast tracks measuring a mile, Occoneechee was a superspeedway. The distance allowed drivers to go faster here than they could on the shorter tracks. So fast, they often careened out of control, landing their cars on the riverbank. Non-paying onlookers climbed trees along the riverbank to get a glimpse of the spectacle.

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NC Spotlight:

Benjamin Earl King[1] (September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015), known as Ben E. King, was an American soul and R&B singer and record producer. He was perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me"—a US Top 10 hit, both in 1961 and later in 1986 (when it was used as the theme to the film of the same name), a number one hit in the UK in 1987, and no. 25 on the RIAA's list of Songs of the Century—and as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group the Drifters notably singing the lead vocals of one of their biggest global hit singles (and only U.S. #1 hit) "Save the Last Dance for Me".[2]

King was born, with the birth name of Benjamin Earl Nelson, on September 28, 1938, in Henderson, North Carolina,[2] and moved to Harlem, New York, at the age of nine in 1947.[3] King began singing in church choirs, and in high school formed the Four B’s, a doo-wop group that occasionally performed at the Apollo.[4]

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Flora MacDonald and the Sandhills/Cape Fear Scots

Flora MacDonald (Gaelic: Fionnghal NicDhòmhnaill) (1722 – March 4, 1790), Jacobite heroine, was the daughter of Ranald MacDonald of Milton on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, and his wife Marion, the daughter of Angus MacDonald.

Her father died when she was a child, and her mother was abducted and married by Hugh MacDonald of Armadale, Skye. She was brought up under the care of the chief of her clan, the MacDonalds of Clanranald, and was partly educated in Edinburgh. Throughout her life she was a practising Presbyterian.[1]

In June 1746, at the age of 24, she was living on the island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides when Bonnie Prince Charlie took refuge there after the Battle of Culloden. The prince's companion, a Captain O'Neill, sought her assistance to help the prince escape capture. The island was controlled by the Hanoverian government using a local militia, but the MacDonalds were secretly sympathetic with the Jacobite cause.

After some hesitation, Flora promised to help the prince escape the island. At a later period she told the Duke of Cumberland, son of George II and commander-in-chief in Scotland, that she acted from charity and would have helped him also if he had been defeated and in distress.

The commander of the local militia was her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald. The commander gave her a pass to the mainland for herself, a manservant, an Irish spinning maid, Betty Burke, and a boat's crew of six men. The prince was disguised as Betty Burke. He had left Benbecula on June 27.

After a first repulse at Waternish, Skye, the party landed at Kilbride, Skye, within easy access of Monkstadt, the seat of Sir Alexander MacDonald. The prince was hidden in rocks while Flora MacDonald found help for him in the neighbourhood. It was arranged that he be taken to Portree, Skye and from there taken to Glam on the island of Raasay.

The talk of the boatmen brought suspicion on Flora MacDonald, and she was arrested and brought to London for aiding the prince's escape. After a short imprisonment in the Tower of London, she was allowed to live outside of it, under the guard of a "messenger" or gaoler. When the Act of Indemnity was passed in 1747 she was released.

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            Most locals know this facility simply as “The City Pond” or since its upgrading as “City Pond Park”.  This small, quite and scenic park is a community “gem” that most people don’t know about.  You can spend the day here relaxing in “peace and quite”, picnicking with family or friends, or fishing on a lake that is one on the best kept secrets in the area because of its uncrowded atmosphere.  The lake covers approximately 100-acres and is 24-feet deep at the dam.



          The lake known as “City Pond” is stocked with bass, bream, shell crackers, crappie and catfish.  Crappie fishing is best in the early spring and late fall, and the other species are fished for all year long.  The lake and park is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 6:30-am until 6:00-pm when the weather is suitable.  Charges for fishing here are unbelievably low:  $1.25 per person for fishing from the lake bank, or you can rent a boat for $4.00 plus $2.00 for each person in the boat, and that small fee includes life jackets and paddles!   These rates are on an “all day” basis.  You will need your North Carolina fishing license to fish here.  One of the local places you can purchase your fishing license and obtain a copy of North Carolina Fishing Rules and Regulations is H. W. Little Hardware, located in uptown Wadesboro.  For information on fishing regulations at the City Pond, call 704-694-4243.

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Some of North Carolina’s greatest treasures can be found off the beaten path. You never know what you might find... an old-time general store, local artisan, or simply a picturesque view that takes your breath away. You’ll be swept away by the untouched natural landscape found on the backroads of this rural county.

In Anson County, you can discover all that and more. Come. Visit. Surround yourself with the beauty of North Carolina’s best kept secret.


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Hands Together is a nonprofit organization devoted to educating, inspiring and encouraging people to understand the importance of responding to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged. Our Mission, as we strive to build a more compassionate and human world, proceeds from the spiritual belief that we are all members of one, equal, interconnected family under a loving God.



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