September 8, 2009

Reader's Digest Selects Fort Fisher in Latest Travel Book

Fort fisher is featured in the latest updated edition of the best selling travel book "Off the Beaten Path" from "Reader's Digest."

This publication has over 1,000 write-ups of unique places to visit in the United States including recommendations on what to see and do in North and South Carolina.

For North Carolina, a total of six locations were selected for the book. In addition to Fort Fisher, the selections included the Nantahala Gorge, about 12 miles southwest of Bryson City; Mount Airy (aka Mayberry); Clyde Jones Haw River Critter Crossing on Bynum Hill Road in Bynum; Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, about 10 miles from Nags Head; and Stone Mountain State Park located in the West District in Wilkes County.

Both the Charlotte Observer & News & Observer featured articles on the Reader's Digest list and offered the following Fort Fisher narrative from the book:

Late in the Civil War, the Union blockade of Southern ports prevented the South from receiving war supplies. In order to counter this, Confederate blockade runners made daring trips through fog and moonless nights to get precious cargoes.

Fort Fisher was built to provide cover for the Confederate seamen entering Cape Fear River on their way to the Confederacy's major port in Wilmington. Extending for one mile along the Atlantic Coast and across a sand peninsula, this series of redoubts was the South's largest earthen seacoast fort. With a complement of 47 guns, it provided a mile of defense seaward as well as one-third mile inland.

Only a few mounds remain, preserved from the actions of erosion. Exhibits in a small museum detail events that took place there from December 1864 to January 1865, when the fort finally fell to a determined Union action that employed about 58 warships and 8,000 infantrymen.

A quarter-mile tour trail surrounds what remains of the fort today. Features along the route include wayside exhibits, a reconstructed palisade fence and a partially restored gun emplacement.

The visitors center offers audio-visual programs and a permanent exhibit hall that displays an extensive collection of artifacts from the blockaders and the blockade runners. There's also a large and impressive fiber optic-powered map that shows the final battle for the fort in 1865.

The fort is open daily April-September; open Tuesday-Saturday, October-March. No admission fee. An aquarium is open year-round except holidays. Admission: $8; $6 for ages 6-17; 5 and younger, free. Details: www.nchistoricsites.org; 910-458-5538 (fort); 910-458-8257 (aquarium).
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