People and Places: Aurora Fossil Museum


If you’ve ever been to Aurora, it’s likely you’ve spent time here.

“People love this museum,” said Cynthia Crane, executive director of Aurora Fossil Museum.

The Aurora Fossil Museum.

“Yes, it’s kind of like a rite of passage for a lot of the local, regional people,” said Crane. It’s a unique museum.”

But why fossils? 

According to the Smithsonian, eastern North Carolina is one of the richest fossil locations in the world.

“The fossils were discovered as a byproduct digging and mining for phosphate,” said Crane. There’s a rich phosphate layer under our feet. So, the neighboring phosphate mine would unearth these fossils.”

And some of the leftover dirt from the mine comes here.

“I think we are the only museum in the united states that has a museum directly associated with a fossil hunting area,” said Crane. So, our visitors can come in, learn about the past, learn about the rich fossil history of the area, and then dig, interact with science and dig for fossils that they get to keep and take home.”

Sometimes those take-home fossils are quite rare.

Shane Sykes and his family came to the museum from Jones County.

“Oh, we love it,” said Sykes. We love it. Family comes here quite often and enjoy ourselves, yes sir.”

Worth it, indeed. 

Unfortunately, time and mother nature have taken its toll on the museum.

“Hurricane Florence was kind of like the trigger that started more damage,” said Crane.

Now they’re calling on the public to dig in and help keep this piece of ENC history alive.

“The current cost is $20,000,” said Crane. Once the roofers remove the roof and look at any damages, it may be more. We’re hoping it’s not. We’ve got our fingers, toes, and our fins crossed out here in Aurora that it will be around $20,000.”

A chance for you to make sure the fossil museum’s future is rock solid.
“I think that it’s a place that Aurora can really grow from,” said Nellie Carter, gift shop manager of the museum. As the museum grows hopefully the town can grow and it can draw more people to Aurora.”

If you would like to donate and help for the museum’s repairs click here to go to their Facebook page or here to go to their website.

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