People & Places: Aurora Fossil Museum

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AURORA, N.C. (WNCT) — If you’ve ever been to Aurora, it’s likely you’ve spent time at the Aurora Fossil Museum.

“People love this museum,” said Cynthia Crane, executive director of Aurora Fossil Museum. “Yes, it’s kind of like a rite of passage for a lot of the local, regional people. 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.”

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

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

The museum often calls on the public to dig in and help keep this piece of ENC history alive. A fundraising campaign brought in more than $20,000 to go towards repairs to the roof.

“We need to have support from the community and the people to help us remain doing what we do,” said Crane. “We love doing it.”

And as a non-profit, it’s the museum’s fans who make sure the facility’s future is rock solid. If you would like to donate and help the museum’s click here to go to their Facebook page or here to go to their website.

The museum is also asking for the public’s help to reach a 500-application goal to start production of a Megalodon License Plate. It has already been approved by legislation, and now all that is needed are 500 applications. The first-year fee for the regular $30 plate is waived thanks to the generosity of some supporters. If you’re interested, all you need to do is click here and fill out the form and click submit. The museum will take care of the rest.

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