What You Need To Know About NC Historical Markers


For the history buffs out there, you probably already know that North Carolina is a state steeped in history with opportunities to delve in and explore the past around every corner. If you're following our Crystal Coast History 101 blog posts, you can see that there's a lot to learn about the past and its effects on the present of this beautiful and historically rich area of eastern North Carolina.

As you're driving through our beloved state, you'll notice distinctive silver markers with black lettering all along the NC highway system noting the statewide historical sites and their significance. Have you seen them? That's all thanks to the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program established in 1935. 
Fasten your seatbelt, we're going to explore more about this fascinating topic and touch on a few of the local NC Highway Historical Markers that can be found during your Emerald Isle beach vacation. With so much history surrounding you, why not make the most of it and embark upon a fun and fascinating historical adventure?

Origins of the NC Highway Historical Marker Program

Thanks to a cooperative venture among state agencies, the North Carolina Highway Historical Program officially came into existence in 1935 with joint responsibility shared among the Historical Research Office, Division of Historical Resources, Department of Cultural Resources, and the Traffic Engineering Branch, Division of Highways, Department of Transportation. The state program was modeled after the one that began in Virginia in 1926. 

The NC Highway Historical Marker Program is one of the oldest such programs in continuous operation in the United States. So that in and of itself is noteworthy for your history lesson. (You are taking notes, right? Just kidding...)

Today, there are over 1,500 state highway historical markers with at least one in every county of North Carolina. You can read more about the origins of the NC Highway Historical Marker Program here.

Highway Historical Markers on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina

In Carteret County alone, there are 26 highway historical markers to be found! The most well-recognized include Cape Lookout, Fort Macon, Beaufort's Old Burying Ground, Ocracoke Inlet and the Newport Barracks. 

Among the 26, each has its own unique backstory and history lesson. They are a wonderful way to spark the interest of kids and teens, which can then be used as a springboard into deeper study and exploration of the topic or event. The historic markers also give exposure to our state's history to those who are vacationing, visiting or just passing through North Carolina. For our NC residents, the historical markers give a sense of pride and a constant reminder of the significance of an important event or historic site that lies so close to home. 


Photo Credit: North Carolina Highway Historical Markers Facebook Page

Highway Historical Highway Markers Near Emerald Isle, NC

Did you know that there are several NC highway historical markers located really close to you during your stay in Emerald Isle? There are! They're all worth checking out on your way to and from the island or any time you want a quick history lesson. The more you know, the more you'll want to know!

Here are some of the NC highway historical markers right near you. You don't even have to leave the island for these!

Union Artillery

  • Marker Location: SR 1190 (Fort Macon Road) at Fort Macon State Park
  • Historical Significance: Union artillery was placed in this area during the siege of Fort Macon, March 23-April 26, 1862.


  • Marker Location: NC 58 in Pine Knoll Shores
  • Historical Significance: In 1524 the greater part of the present east coast of the United States, including North Carolina, was first described by a European, Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine navigator sailing for King Francis I of France. His voyage along the coast in 1524 marked the first recorded European contact with North Carolina.

Hoop Pole Creek

  • Marker Location: NC 58 (Fort Macon Boulevard) in Atlantic Beach
  • Historical Significance: Union forces led by General John G. Parke landed here, March 29, 1862, during the Fort Macon campaign. 

SS Pevensey

  • Marker Location: NC 58 (Salter Path Road) in Pine Knoll Shores
  • Historical Significance: Blockade runner, iron steamer, chased ashore by Union ship, June 9, 1864. Remains lie offshore, 220 yards SE.

Fort Macon

  • Marker Location: SR 1190 (Fort Macon Road) at Fort Macon State Park
  • Historical Significance: Built by U.S. Corps of Engineers, 1826-34. Good example of brick fort. Seized by Confederates, April 14, 1861. Scene of battle, April 25, 1862.

More About the NC Highway Historical Marker Program

We really encourage you to take full advantage of the historical marker system during your time in North Carolina. You can visit ncmarkers.com and find historical markers near you by going to Search and then choosing the County selection.

Get creative and bring history to life by taking some day trips to nearby historic sites or have a family scavenger hunt where you seek out as many of the NC highway historical markers as you can during your time here.  If you can't get out there and see the markers yourself, at least visit the website and read up on the amazing history that surrounds you.

Don't forget to check out our other Crystal Coast History 101 posts. Just click on the Categories section located to the right of this blog post. Happy history hunting!

How many of the North Carolina highway historical markers have you seen?






Comment on this post!