August 16, 2009

Wilmington Star: Eye on the Fort Fisher Hermit

By Ben Steelman
August 15, 2009
For a while in the 1960s, he claimed to draw more tourists than any other attraction in Southeastern North Carolina, other than the Battleship North Carolina – and he just might have been right.

Thousands of locals and visitors made their way through the marshes at Fort Fisher, to a trash-laden yard next to a World War II-vintage concrete bunker, to sit in on a session of his “School of Common Sense.” His epitaph reads, “He made people think.”

Robert E. Harrill (1893-1972), better known as “The Fort Fisher Hermit,” has been gone for 36 years, but a touch of his spirit still hovers over the Cape Fear coast, and his admirers remain numerous.
Now an old friend, Fred Pickler, has published a memoir in photos: “Life and Times of the Fort Fisher Hermit.”

A native of the North Carolina Sandhills, Pickler first encountered the Hermit as a Boy Scout, when his troop traveled down to Fort Fisher for a camping trip around 1956...

Photo from the article.
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