Shaded by centuries-old live oaks, Oak Island’s stunning landscape provides the perfect backdrop for a charming small town along the Southeastern coast. The Island’s history is intertwined with stories of exotic treasure hidden by pirates, military strongholds and early plantation life. Come and explore the rich history and beautifully maintained historic sites of our island! The Battleship North Carolina also played a part in these wars, serving in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.
When it was first built in 1825, Fort Caswell was considered one of the strongest forts in the world and the first structure constructed on the entire island. Some say that authorities built Fort Caswell near Southport and Bald Head Island because they were havens for notorious pirates, including Blackbeard. Fort Caswell was such a formidable adversary for the Union, that it saw very little action during the Civil War. During the Civil War no soldier lost his life at Fort Caswell due to combat. Fort Caswell was such a formidable adversary for the Union, that it saw very little action during the Civil War. During the Civil War no soldier lost his life at Fort Caswell due to combat.
However, Fort Fisher, established in 1861, was heavily used during the Civil War and World War II. When Fort Fisher fell after a massive Federal amphibious assault on January 15, 1865, its defeat helped seal the fate of the Confederacy. The Fort Fisher State Historic Site and museum are filled with civil war artifacts and interactive maps that help visitors relive the exciting battles fought to keep the shipping lanes open to Wilmington, the last supply-line for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Other great historical sites include the beautiful and eerie grounds of the Old Smithville Burying Ground, which houses many notable figures in the Southeaster region’s history. Shaded by the tremendous oaks, nearly as old as some of the graves, you’ll enjoy an interesting walk through our area history. Another great site to explore is the 125 year building that used to be the Old Brunswick County Jail, also known as the Old Southport Jail because it resides in a two-story brick building in Southport. With only two cells, and eight bunks in the entire building it speaks of the simpler times. It’s been used in hollywood movies and maintained by the Southport Historical Society.
While exploring the Jail, you should check out the remains of Old Brunswick Town. It was the first successful permanent European settlement between Charleston, SC and New Bern NC. This colonial site was the Cape Fear Port and major export of Naval stores. It was also the location of the Stamp Act Rebellion. Two brothers founded the town in July 1726, Maurice Moore and Roger Moore, owner of the nearby Orton Plantation.
Travelling through the charming town of Southport, you’ll notice remains of a different era wherever you go. Take a walking tour of Historic Southport and we hope you’ll find it as warm and gracious as we do.