Outlander's North Carolina: Real Places to Visit
Hey, y’all! I want to begin by thanking Stephanie for allowing me the privilege of guest-blogging for her! I love all that is Outlander, and love even more that the stories of the Fraser's live in my beloved North Carolina.
I didn’t discover the books until the series trailers were shown in the Summer of 2014. I was recovering from a thyroidectomy, and preparing for treatment for papillary thyroid cancer. I spent most of my time that Summer in the recliner, and I just wanted to feel better and read. I have to admit that I had no interest whatsoever in watching the show. None. Zero. Zilch. The action scenes of Outlander featured in the trailer made me completely uninterested. I know--even I think I was crazy. Needless to say, when my friend Lizzie from New Zealand suggested I read the books during my treatment isolation period, I took her up on it, hoping the book would be better than what my brain was saying about the show trailers.
I checked Outlander out from the library, and read it. That was the end of me. Diana Gabaldon had cast the bait, and I was hooked, in the cooler, scaled, breaded and fried!
As much as I love the beginnings of the story in Scotland, having Claire and Jamie and the rest of the Heehaw gang settling in the North Carolina mountains just made my heart sing. I’m not a native--my parents were born in North Carolina, and I lived my first eighteen years in Virginia, but in my heart, I was a North Carolina girl. I live on the northeast coast, near present-day Manteo, where the colonists got “lost.” This was the beginning of my interest in NC history, mostly here in the coastal areas. (And now that they’re doing more research about where John White’s settlers may have gone, I don’t think I want to know for sure. I like a mystery!)
Now, my dream is to get an RV, and travel the state of North Carolina,
and take in all of the places and history of the beginnings of the nation, especially those places that relate to the Outlander series. I must admit that I skipped a lot of the historical parts of the books, because, well, I kinda know what happens. But every time I’d read about some significant historical event or person in the books that I wasn’t familiar with, I logged on and Googled the names and the places, and was thrilled to find out that many of these places are preserved as historical sites and I can visit them, and walk where Jamie and Claire walked--wait--I keep forgetting they’re fictional characters. I’ll just pretend.
All of that said, I want to share some places from the books that you can visit today. Let’s start on the east coast and work our way towards Fraser’s Ridge.
Ocracoke: First, let me get this out of the way--there are no standing stones on Ocracoke Island. As much fun as that would be, some fans are shocked to find this out. Ocracoke is a barrier island, and is sandy and remote, to say the least. It’s reachable only by ferry from the mainland in Swan Quarter, or from Hatteras Island. There’s a new passenger ferry that will be operating beginning Summer of 2019 from Hatteras--I recommend this means of travel if you’re visiting the Outer Banks and would like to visit Ocracoke for the day. Parking is a precious commodity, and most people park and rent golf carts or bikes to tour the area. Plan a visit around one of their great events, and they even have a Pirate festival in October, thanks to Black Beard’s fatal battle with British soldiers that took place off the coast of Ocracoke.
Edenton: I don’t know if they actually held ordination boards for Presbyterian ministers there back in the day, but when I think of the scene of Roger Mac standing near the shore, thinking about his part in the ministry, I can see him on the shores of this beautiful town. The history-soaked town of Edenton is simply beautiful. From the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse to the Penelope Barker House, you’ll find so many original structures there that I’d say that the town rivals many New England places.
New Bern: Lots of action in New Bern for season 4, and I’ve only
been once, but the homes there are a house-lover’s (like me!) dream! In spite of major flooding from hurricane Florence, the town is bouncing back nicely, thankfully. There is an exact replica of Tryon Palace built on the original foundation, and the tour is amazing, and the Palace is now offering Outlander tours once a month, as well as heirloom gardening and costuming workshops for those who love to dress in historical clothing! Once you’re at the Palace website, check their events calendar to find out when you can satisfy your Outlander cravings.
Wilmington: I can’t blame the Fraser's for visiting this wonderful place
frequently! It was the first home of Governor Tryon’s official residence, before he moved it to New Bern (one reason the Regulators disliked him so much, because he used taxpayer money to fund the construction of Tryon Palace). Close by is Moore's Creek, where an important Revolutionary battle was fought in 1776.
Alamance: The Battle of Alamance is part of the Regulators history, and (SPOILER!) Roger Mac has a little something to do with it. This historic site is great--they have a reenactment of the battle in May, as well as presentations about women as healers after the fight, and many other interesting events that totally speak to our Outlander hearts.
Old Salem: This is the town that the Fraser's would frequent, beginning
in Drums of Autumn, for trade and shopping--I like to think that Claire visited the gardens there, many of which have been in use since 1766. This Moravian settlement is on my bucket list, but thankfully, some of their bakeries now distribute to grocery stores, and I can have a wonderfully thin and crispy Moravian ginger cookie whenever I want. You haven’t lived until have one.
Boone: I am making a total compromise here, since the Ridge isn’t an actual place on the map--but when we talk or think about Fraser’s Ridge, the mountains and area surrounding the pretty little town of Boone come to my mind. Valle Crucis, just outside of Boone, is an idyllic valley, and I see it as the result of a pre-Revolutionary settlement like Jamie was blessed to be laird of. The town of Blowing Rock isn’t far, and neither is Grandfather Mountain, where the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are held every year (more on that in the next section.) One place you need to visit while in Boone is the Hickory Ridge Living Museum, with relocated log cabins and tours given by docents and historians. Stay around for their long-running outdoor drama, “Horn in the West,” which is a play based on NC pioneer history, and you might even get a glimpse of Daniel Boone, the town’s namesake.
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games: Think modern-day Mt. Helicon gathering (The Fiery Cross) when you think about these games--bagpipes and kilts included! The games draw more participants and visitors than the highland games in Scotland! Many descendants of Scottish clans are there, and you can learn so much about the Scots that settled in the North Carolina Highlands. Tickets go fast, though, and I have a feeling there will be more than a few Outlander fans that become regulars at this fun-filled event.
I know I’ve probably missed some places, and if I have, let me know! I
enjoy sharing information about my home state, and going on an
Outlander-related visit just makes the people and places even more interesting to me. I mean, just when I thought the Fraser's story couldn’t get any better, here they come ‘round the mountain, cementing in my heart as the best books I’ve ever read.
Big thanks to Susan, admin for Outlander North Carolina, for guest blogging this month. Very informative for fans who want to visit here. For more information on all these amazing sites and others visit https://www.visitnc.com/travel-guides
Thanks also goes out once again to the amazing and talented Outlander artist, Vera Adxer who graciously lent her artwork to this blog.