Thursday, April 20, 2006

Seven Natural Wonders of North Carolina, and then some

Last week Observer Travel Editor John Bordsen had a fun piece on the Seven Wonders of the Carolinas. It reminded me of a list that Asheville Citizen editor Don Shoemaker wrote half a century ago. I ran across it in Richard Walser’s 1962 book “The North Carolina Miscellany.”
Shoemaker listed these nominees: the Cow Palace at Raleigh (Dorton Arena); the Old Fort-Ridgecrest Southern Railway; the Blue Ridge Parkway; a mammoth textile mill such as Cone; the carillon tower at Duke; the playmakers building at Chapel Hill; the State Capitol Building; the Wright Memorial At Kill Devil Hills.
(The Greensboro Daily News noted the excessive number on April 22, 1956, and interjected: “But wait a minute. That’s already eight, and Don hasn’t even mentioned Dr. Archibald Henderson or Harry Golden.” Henderson was a beloved math professor and eccentric at what is now called UNC Chapel Hill; Golden was a newspaper editor who published The Carolina Israelite and wrote wonderful pieces making fun, among other things, of racial segregation.)
All those wonders cited by the usual lists were built by people. I’d like to start a list of North Carolina’s Natural Wonders, and here are my nominees:
Cape Lookout Bight, a natural harbor behind that dramatic cape that sailors have used for centuries to wait out a storm; Lake Mattamuskeet in Carteret County, an amazing sight especially in winter when its waters are the home to thousands of huge migratory waterfowl that come from the far frozen North; the Neuse River down below New Bern where it makes the big turn at Minnesott and is wider than the Mississippi – and tough to navigate in bad weather; Duke Forest near Durham, any time of year; the rolling hills of Randolph County called the Uwharrie Mountains; Linville Gorge and Grandfather Mountain; Mount Mitchell and Clingman’s Dome... But wait, that’s nine, and I haven’t even mentioned Bland Simpson or Roy Williams!
What would you put on your list?

15 comments:

Jimmy Mac said...

We can't leave out the inlet between Holden Beach and Calabash in my home county of Brunswick.

Anonymous said...

Ah come on. You both left off the Biltmore, possibly the most stunning residence in the United States. Too European for you? The Biltmore is an incredible work, and it has kept going as a working residence and tourist attraction. I know it's an obvious choice, but it's gotta be there. That and the Blue Ridge Parkway, another man-made feature that could never be duplicated today.

Anonymous said...

I also love Lake Mattamuskeet as well as my home county, Carteret.
It's difficult, though, to enjoy them at the same time since Lake Mattamuskeet is in Hyde County, not Carteret. Just a minor detail....

Jack Betts said...

anonymous may have missed the point; this post was about natural wonders of North Carolina, and Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Parkway were built. I agree they ought to be on any list of built wonders, and that the BRP would be all but impossible to build today.

anonyMoses said...

Thanks for these great ideas! New places to see!

Speaking of which...did you see Bland Simpson when he performed at the Neighborhood Theater? Most excellent, as are his other works.

Dave Beckwith
-Charlotte

PS - I mentioned your blog on my blog today.

Jack Betts said...

OH no! Did I say Mattamuskeet was in Carteret? I did indeed,when all the world knows it's a long, long next-door in Hyde. I even looked it up to make sure of the spelling of Mattamuskeet. Yikes!
Re Bland Simpson: I didn't see him at the Neighborhood Theater, but every time I've see him and the Red Clay Ramblers, they've been just great.
Jack

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