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North Carolina (NC): State Guide and Fun Facts

When was North Carolina Founded? 1653

Who Founded North Carolina? King James II

First settlers: Hatteras, Cherokee, Catawba, Chowanoc, Tuscarora Native Americans

Square Miles: 70,704

US Rank: 19th

State Flower: American Dogwood

State Bird: Cardinal

State Motto:
Latin: “Esse Quam Videri”
Translation: To be, rather than to seem

Capital City

Raleigh – North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh, is unique in that is it located near two other metropolitan areas, Durham and Chapel Hill. The city of Raleigh is fairly large, at 405,791 full-time residents in July of 2009. The entire region, including the three cities and their metropolitan areas, claims a population of 1,742,816. These three cities form what has become known as the Research Triangle. Within this triangle is a very high concentration of technologically advancing companies, as well as three prominent research universities: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and Duke University.


What is North Carolina famous for?

1. Biltmore Estate – America’s largest home was built by George Vanderbilt in 1895 in Asheville, North Carolina. Vanderbilt and his wife, Edit Stuyvesant Dresser, lived at Biltmore and raised their only child, Cornelia, at the estate. The home was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, a prominent architect, and was modeled after 16th century French chateaus. The grounds were laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, the very founder of landscape architecture in America. With 175,000 square feet, Biltmore features 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and bowling alley.

2. First in Flight – Orville and Wilbur Wright were born in the latter half of the 19th century and are known for being the first in the world to fly a plane under on-board human control. Others before them had built unmanned aircraft that was able to leave the ground, but the planes were impossible to control and impractical. Their experiments took them to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, a town located at the northern tip of the Outer Banks. They chose the site because of its constant ideal wind conditions. On December 17, 1903, the brothers made their first flight, only lasting 12 seconds and 120 feet. By the end of the day, Wilbur had piloted a successful flight that lasted 59 seconds and flew 852 feet.

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – This National Park in western North Carolina is the country’s most visited park, with between eight and ten million vacationers every year. The scenery is breathtaking, and there is plenty of hiking that affords entirely unique views of the sunrise and sunset. Mountains aside, the national park is host to tours by car, bicycling paths, campsites, fishing, historic buildings (homes, barns, churches, schools, mills), horseback riding, picnicking and waterfalls.

What is North Carolina’s economy?

1. Services Industry – North Carolina’s primary service industries include finance, insurance and real estate. Because of the state’s continuous increase in population, the financial services and baking sectors have had successful growth in recent years, allowing the area to become a leading financial center for the country.

2. Manufacturing – The manufacturing industry in North Carolina primarily includes the production of tobacco products, including cigarettes, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco. In addition to being the nation’s leader in the manufacture of tobacco products, the state produces pharmaceuticals, cleaners, computer and electronic products and communication equipment.

3. Agriculture – North Carolina’s primary income from livestock is from hogs, chickens, turkeys, milk, beef cattle, eggs and ducks. The main crops are tobacco and cotton, soybeans, peanuts, sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, peaches and strawberries.


North Carolina Historical Landmarks

1. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse – The original lighthouse was built in 1797 of sandstone and was not painted elaborately as it is today. Congress asked for the beacon to be built because the area had a series of dangerous shoals that ships were being damaged by, especially when traveling after nightfall. In 1868, the US Navy asked that a new lighthouse be built on the site, as the first lighthouse was in a state of disrepair. In 1871 the new house was completed and stood as the highest brick lighthouse in the world at 193 feet. Shortly thereafter, the first tower was demolished. In 1999, after the ocean slowly eroded the beach, making its way toward the tower, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved 2,800 feet inland by a team of engineers to its current safe location.

2. Carl Sandburg Home – Visitors to southwestern Flat Rock, North Carolina can stop at “Connemara”, the home of noted Pulitzer Price-winning poet and writer, Carl Sandburg. The site includes 30 acres of land, a dairy farm, sheds, mountains, hiking trails, lakes, ponds, gardens and an orchard.

3. Old East – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is home to the country’s oldest public state university building. The hall was constructed in 1793 and today is home to male and female students of the university.

4. Reed Gold Mine – Located in Concord, North Carolina, the Reed Gold Mine was the first documented area in the United States to find gold. It was discovered by Conrad Reed, who did not know the 17-pound rock he found was gold, and used the piece he found as a doorstop. He sold the stone for $3.50, not realizing that is was worth more than $3,500. After discovering the value of his property, Reed opened mining grounds on his property and became a wealthy man.