Drive a little more than two hours from Wilson, Rocky Mount, or Zebulon to Atlantic Beach. Then, make a left and drive up East Fort Macon Road until you run out of road. You’ll be at Fort Macon State Park, ready to explore an amazing “local” structure: Fort Macon.
Construction of Fort Macon began in 1826, according to www.ncparks.gov, the website of the NC Division of Parks and Recreation. Five-sided, made of brick and stone, Fort Macon’s layout includes 26 vaulted rooms enclosed by thick outer walls.
The first troops occupied the fort starting in 1834. The fort was manned by different armies over the years, through multiple wars, even serving as a coaling station and a prison. For some time, it was even abandoned.
In 1923, Fort Macon and the surrounding reservation were sold for one dollar to North Carolina, for use as a public park.
After restoration by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Fort Macon State Park to opened in 1936. For part of the 1940s, the US Army occupied the park, returning it to the state following World War II.
Walking through the fort, visitors can view exhibits showing life in prior times. They can also scale the steps to the grassy “roof” and look over the surrounding walls and beyond. A family can easily pass several hours exploring Fort Macon and the surrounding trails and visitor’s center.
The Fort Macon State Park address is 2303 E Fort Macon Road, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. For more information, call 252.726.3775.