We enjoy field trips so I’m trying to do better about planning them. A couple of weeks ago I set aside time to list a whole bunch of field trips in our area. Opportunities abound: we have no excuse not to do at least one a month, maybe more if weather and schedules cooperate. For our first of the homeschool year, we toured a history museum just up the road.
The North Carolina Maritime Museum
Just inside the door of the North Carolina Maritime Museum, guests are greeted at the front door by this beautiful quilt featuring the lighthouses of North Carolina. That’s ours down at bottom right. At left middle is Old Baldy: the oldest standing lighthouse in the state.
There’s so much to see in this little museum. It’s arranged chronologically, beginning before Europeans arrived. Jem has seen how traditional boats are made so he was intrigued by the idea of a dugout canoe made from one solid piece of tree. A partial dugout canoe was featured in the museum (behind glass) and is said to be more than 1,000 years old!
We saw pottery and arrowheads excavated locally, and learned about a British fort originally built here in 1748. Continuing on through the museum, we learned about pirates, early settlers, Civil War, and the local fishing industry. Also featured: a model of the quarantine village on a separate little island for incoming seamen and passengers.
One of the coolest features of the museum is a working periscope that goes up through the roof. It turns 360 degrees, and we could see for miles!
Because of shallow shoals offshore, there have been a number of shipwrecks over the years, especially back in the days before modern lighthouses. In 1878, a hurricane wrecked one ship carrying loads of toys and goods intended for Christmas sales. Nearly 100 years later much of the cargo was recovered, including all these china doll heads. A little creepy, according to Kathryn, but fascinating to think they were under the sea for so long.
A neat idea: the museum gives kids a scavenger hunt to help keep them engaged as they go through the exhibits. If the kids check off everything on the list they can pick a prize from a treasure chest when they’re done. Big sis Kathryn helped make sure he didn’t overlook anything.
Besides the periscope, Kathryn’s next favorite item was a jaw bone from a right whale, discovered by a fisherman off the coast. We were also fascinated by a piece of black coral, which looked like an ebony tree and lives only in deep water. Jem thought the guns, swords, and old money were awesome.
Doesn’t every field trip end with pirate hats?
Now we know where to go if we need to buy pirate hats or eye patches! My boy wasn’t the only pirate here: Stede Bonnet was a notorious pirate who was captured near here and later hanged in Charleston. Blackbeard frequented the area as well; relics from his shipwrecked Queen Anne’s Revenge have been recovered off the North Carolina coast!
Kathryn and I agreed we need to go back again one day because we both reached maximum information intake and simply couldn’t process any more. Another awesome feature of this museum: it’s free! If you live or vacation near any of the three locations for the North Carolina Maritime Museum, we recommend making time to visit and explore.