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Posted: Friday, Apr. 06, 2012

Fayetteville: History you can walk through

By Gary McCullough
Published in: Southeast Excursions
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    Fayetteville tourism info: 800-255-8217;

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    Fayetteville calls itself “historic” and – and this city really is. A full weekend is needed to explore all the history-related attractions Fayetteville has to offer.


    From Charlotte, Fayetteville is 141 miles, about a three-hour trip, one way.

    To see and do

    The visitors center, at 245 Person St., is the best place to get started. Here you can get information about and directions to numerous historic points of interest.

    Leave your car there and take a short walk west to Liberty Point, where, on June 20, 1775, patriots adopted the Cumberland Resolves, pledging their lives and fortunes for the cause of American liberty. One block further west stands the Market House, built in 1832, modeled after and built on the site of the first State House, lost in the Great Fire of 1831.

    Few North Carolina buildings can match the historic importance of the original State House, so-called because of the expectation among Fayetteville citizens when the building was erected that their town might be named the state capital. Though Fayetteville was passed over for that honor, historic meetings nevertheless took place in its second-floor assembly room: In the fall of 1789, the N.C. General Assembly ratified the U.S. Constitution, making North Carolina the 12th state to join the nation. This same legislative body established the University of North Carolina, the first public university in the country.

    Stroll one block north to Cross Creek/Linear Park and see the statue of the Marquis de Lafayette. Fayetteville was the first town in America to be named after the famous Frenchman, and is the only city named in his honor that Lafayette actually visited during his 1825 tour of the United States.

    After your walking tour of downtown, make the short drive over to Cross Creek Cemetery, where you’ll find a white obelisk honoring fallen Confederates. It is the oldest Confederate memorial in the state.

    Fayetteville museums are plentiful. The Airborne & Special Operations Museum presents an engaging, high-tech history through life-size dioramas, artifacts, a large-screen theater, and even a motion simulator. The exhibits highlight the accomplishments of the Special Forces – the Army’s airborne and special operations units – from the early days of World War II to the present.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex includes a regional history museum, the 1897 Poe House, and the site of the 1838-1865 arsenal. The galleries showcase a variety of exhibits relating to the Fayetteville area from the early 1700s through the 1900s. The elegant home of businessman E.A. Poe features a wraparound porch and considerable Eastlake detailing in its spindles and scrollwork. The remains of the famous Fayetteville arsenal are behind the museum. When Union forces captured the town in 1865, the arsenal was blasted, burned, and battered to the ground.

    The Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum traces the development of steamboats, plank roads, railroads, and other methods of transportation in the region. Exhibits detail Fayetteville’s role as an inland river port and terminus for the old Fayetteville & Western Plank Road. Running 129 miles west to Salem, it was one of the longest plank roads in the world at the time of its completion.

    Not all of Fayetteville’s attractions relate to history. For variety, check out the Fayetteville Rose Garden, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden and the Fayetteville Museum of Art.

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