Collections from North Carolina National Parks

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in North Carolina. We invite you to explore museum collections from Blue Ridge Parkway, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Moores Creek National Battlefield, and Wright Brothers National Memorial.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was conceived of and constructed during a period of expanding automobile use and a cultural fascination with the automobile. Gas pumps like this were located at park maintenance areas to fuel ranger and construction vehicles used in the early stages of park development. Similar pumps were later installed at multiple locations along the 469-mile route for visitor use. There are no longer gas pumps available for visitor use along the parkway. Adjacent communities in the 29 counties bordering the park provide this important service.

Blue Ridge Parkway, BLRI 6603

In 1869 the United States Lighthouse Board issued a book of specifications for a First Order Lighthouse to be erected at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. This book is bound in red leather and black linen with a gold embossed title. It contains 18 numbered plates and 40 numbered pages of text, including an index of drawings and specifications.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built in 1870 to warn ships of the dangerous 12-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals along North Carolina's Outer Banks. Standing at 198 feet, it is the tallest brick lighthouse in the world. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark and with its characteristic black and white spiral stripes is the most recognized lighthouse in the country. Often referred to as “America's lighthouse,” the beacon is a regional symbol of North Carolina's Outer Banks and a national symbol of America's maritime history. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse still serves as an active aid to navigation for mariners plying the waters of the eastern seaboard.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, CAHA 3534

This unglazed Late Style Spanish olive jar was found on the South Core Bank beach in 2008. The incurvate, tapering, cone-shape of the vessel is typical for Late Style jars dating to approximately 1780-1850. These wheel-thrown jars have a thin, doughnut-shaped lip or rim that attaches directly to the body of the vessel.

Late Style olive jars like this have been found on Spanish shipwrecks and sites all over the Western Hemisphere. These coarse earthenware containers were commonly used, like the wooden crates of today, to ship a variety of goods and materials. Their primary use was for transporting liquids. The jars could be hung on racks or carried by means of a rope attached to the rim. Many Spanish olive jars have been recovered from Spanish shipwrecks throughout the West Indies and the Caribbean still containing the remains of various materials such as tallow, oils, dyes, tobacco, wax, and seeds. The plugs or stoppers for olive jars used for transport were most often made of cork.

Five Spanish olive jars of this type have been found along the beaches of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Some were corked and contained seeds that have been identified as Olea europaea, the European olive. European olives were transported in this manner from the time of earliest European contact into the 1800s. The fact that intact corked olive jars and fragments of others were found relatively close together suggests that there could be a shipwreck site not far offshore, or perhaps a shipwreck survivors camp, beached vessel, or another type of terrestrial site close by.

Cape Lookout National Seashore, CALO 3091

Reading and writing were integral daily activities for Carl Sandburg and his family, who subscribed to more than 100 magazines and periodicals and owned over 17,000 books. A writer and critic of his time, Carl Sandburg made commentary in public and private, as exhibited here on an unopened issue of the New York Times:

“NY (Sunday) Times, Aug 7, '49, nobody opens, everybody sees, nobody cares, a newspaper not demonstrably stupid yet incorrigibly stodgy.”

A poem unto itself, this quote is typical of Sandburg's “notes to self,” which are scribbled on a plethora of documents and books. The sheer volume of paper that remains in the Sandburg Home is a testament to the writer's keen interest in history and contemporary culture. Sandburg's personal notes leave us with a unique window into his imagination and life of the mind, which made a lasting impression on 1900s America.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, CARL 9491

This Native American copper necklace was likely the elaborate personal ornament of a Roanoke Indian. Archeologists recovered the necklace in situ near the Thomas Hariot Nature Trail at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in 2008. The necklace consists of 13 diamond-shaped plates
made of copper from continental Europe that were strung together on short knotted cords, which have now rotted away. There is evidence that the necklace was contained in a leather pouch when it was lost or discarded. English explorers and colonists carried copper to trade with Native Americans of coastal North Carolina and Virginia. For these native groups, copper was highly prized and represented high status. This necklace probably belonged to a Roanoke Indian who had acquired it through trade.

The first sustained interaction between Native Americans and English explorers occurred during the Roanoke Voyages of 1584-1587, which were sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh. This cultural interaction was documented by scientist Thomas Hariot and artist John White. Together, they produced the first ethnographic study of the Algonquian people and the first English language documentation of the North Carolina coastal region.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, FORA 3922

Portion of a wood mile post with carved markings to show mileage from Wilmington, NC (23 miles) in Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, and hatch marks. This mile marker was found within 100 yards of the park's boundary on the remnant traces of Negro Head Point Road. The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge was located within a short distance, and was fought at the critical bridge crossroads leading to the port of Wilmington. The battle left lasting impacts for the colony of North Carolina, since it prevented the loyalist militia from meeting British invasion forces, led by General Cornwallis, at the port of Wilmington.

Moores Creek National Battlefield, MOCR 194

Sixty-six years after the Wright Brothers inaugurated the aerial age with their heavier-than-air flight at Kitty Hawk, the first man walked on the moon. The landing of the Apollo XI lunar module in the Mer Tranquilitus (Sea of Tranquility) on July 20, 1969 was broadcast on live television to a world-wide audience, including a crowd that gathered at Wright Brothers National Memorial to watch the historic event on television. When Commander Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the moon he carried in his Personal Preference Kit (PPK) a piece of cloth and wood from the original 1903 Wright Flyer. This framed display contains a piece of “Pride of the West” muslin fabric from the upper left wing and a fragment of wood from the left propeller from the 1903 Wright Flyer, along with copies of letters of authentication from Harold Miller, Co-Executor of the Orville Wright Estate and Neil Armstrong, Command Pilot on the Apollo XI.

These framed objects represent two of humanity's greatest achievements-from the very first moment of powered flight to the first steps on the moon!

Wright Brothers National Memorial, WRBR 493, 494

This drum is the most significant object in the museum collection. It represents both military history and folk art. Donated in 1954 by the Guilford Battle Chapter and the Rachel Caldwell Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Drums were used to convey commands and provide music in battle and drill in the 1700s.

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, GUCO 349

Credits: Story

Park museum staff from: Blue Ridge Parkway, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Moores Creek National Battlefield, and Wright Brothers National Memorial.

National Park Service, Museum Management Program Staff: Amber Dumler, Stephen Damm, Ron Wilson, and Joan Bacharach

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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