9OYS Living Local: Plymouth museums

Living Local

It’s hard to drive through downtown Plymouth and not spot the Roanoke River Lighthouse.

Many are familiar with the lighthouses that stretch up and down North Carolina’s coast, but there was a time when river lights were just as important to sailors.

The Roanoke River Lighthouse is actually the second of three built in the same spot on the Albemarle Sound.

 “The first one of this one caught fire after being out there about seven months,” said Brenda Skiles, with the Roanoke River Lighthouse and Maritime Museum.

The second one survived until about 1885 and then it was lost to an ice flow,” said Doward Jones with the Washington County Waterways Commission. “And the last one came in and was built and served until the 1950s.”

The present-day Roanoke River Lighthouse is actually a replica of one that was farther down river back in the 1800s. It was one of over a dozen in the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds that helped light the way for sailors along the inner banks.

 “There was a tremendous amount of traffic that came in and out of here,” said Skiles.

What once served as navigation tool is now a beacon for a small town redefining itself as a destination, with unique attractions like Plymouth’s God’s Creation Wildlife Museum.

“We go for the ‘wow!’” said Beth Price, with God’s Creation Wildlife Museum. “I want people to come and go ‘wow.’”

Wow is certainly a reaction to one of Plymouth’s more unique museums.

“They say, ‘I can’t believe I’m in North Carolina,’” added Price. “That’s the other good thing I like to hear. I want to take them away.”

“I’ve been hunting all my life, and I saw the opportunity to create a public venue where we could educate people about the variety and magnificence of God’s creation,” said Tom Harrison, who owns the museum.

“We’ve got animals from Africa to Alaska and points in between,” Harrison added. 

Bearology is all about the world’s largest black bears, which happen to live right here in Eastern North Carolina.

“I thought it was important to do the black bear museum because of the educational aspect,” he said. “We’ve got the highest black bear density in the world on the Albemarle-Pamlico peninsula.”

“Even people that aren’t into hunting and people that aren’t really a fan of taxidermy and this kind of thing — there’s a lot of different diversity here, and it’s educational,” Price said. “It’s neat. It’s fun.”

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