(View from the Heron House)
I spent the weekend in Eastern North Carolina over Labor Day. I would define that area as east of Raleigh, south of Rocky Mount, west from the Pamlico Sound and north of Jacksonville. This is tobacco country – hot, sandy and flat. A pile of mulch in somebody’s yard qualifies as a genuine hill. It is really flat. Pecan trees grow here and moss slithers along the tree limbs. Eastern, NC is sparsely populated, so much so that if you have less than a half tank of gas and see a station, stop and fill up. You might not see another station that day.
We stayed at a cottage at the mouth of the Pamlico River, which forms the Pamlico Sound. We caught bass, flounder and crabs from the dock and were treated to eagle, heron and osprey sightings throughout each day. The little village of Bath is a waterfront community about 13 miles south of Washington, truly an historic place.
Before there was a Washington, DC, there was a Washington, NC. It was established in 1776 on land donated by the Bonner family. The county seat of Beaufort County, Washington was the first city in the United States named after our first president.
Originally called Forks of the Tar. Washington served as a supply port in 1776 while all major neighboring ports were under British siege. During the Civil War, Washington came under attack by Union troops until confederate ships from the Tar River forced them out. Both Union and Confederate soldiers burned many buildings as they retreated.
The Bank of Washington, West End Branch, Beaufort County Courthouse, Bowers-Tripp House, North Market Street Historic District, Rosedale, Washington Historic District, and Zion Episcopal Church are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another historical place of interest in Eastern, NC is New Bern.
New Bern is a riverfront city near the North Carolina coast. It is home to the Tryon Palace complex, which includes a replica of the state’s first capitol, plus historic homes, plush gardens and the North Carolina History Center. The Birthplace of Pepsi is located in the drugstore where the drink was invented in the 1890s. Nearby, the New Bern Firemen’s Museum highlights the Great Fire of 1922. Many estuaries and diverse wildlife are situated in and near New Bern.
Should you decide for a change-of-pace vacation and a visit to Eastern, NC, may I recommend the place we stayed – the Heron House in Bath. Located on Bath Creek, a half-mile from the Pamlico River, guests will enjoy a private setting with boating, kayaking, fishing, crabbing and water sports. The Heron House includes three bedrooms and two baths, a large dock and a small boat ramp. The cost is about $175 per night. Go to VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) and pull up Heron House, Bath, NC for more information.
Eastern North Carolina is a great place to visit, but if you see a service station, stop.