Looking for fall travel destinations? Try browsing historic NC post cards for ideas.

"Whitewater Falls in Autumn," post card published by W. M. Cline Co., Chattanooga, Tenn., date unknown.
“Whitewater Falls in Autumn,” post card published by W. M. Cline Co., Chattanooga, Tenn., date unknown.

Looking to go leafing this autumn but cannot decide where to travel?  Why not search for locations in the online collection of North Carolina post cards, then seek out some then an now photographs?  After all, Governor Roy Cooper has declared October to be “Photography Month!”

Two N.C. Horse Shows are “Heritage” Events

Scene During Annual Blowing Rock Horse Show

North Carolina is home to two horse shows designated as Heritage Competitions by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). The USEF defines a Heritage Competition as a show that has been running for an extended period of time, makes a positive and important impact on the sport, and contributes to the broader community.

Both the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show and the Jump for the Children Horse Show received the designation in 2014. As of 2016, only 22 shows out of approximately 2,500 USEF-sanctioned shows had the prestigious Heritage Competition designation.

The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show traces its origins to 1923, when Lloyd Manson Tate organized a horse show to entertain guests at the Green Park Hotel. Through the Great Depression, both world wars, the energy crisis and more, the show has grown and flourished. It is recognized as the oldest, continuous outdoor horse show in the United States.

1955 Blowing Rock Horse Show
1955 Blowing Rock Horse Show. Photo by Hugh Morton.

In its 95th year, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show is a USEF ‘AA’ rated show where competitors vie for cash prizes and points within the USEF points system. For three weeks a year in the summer, competitors and spectators alike enjoy the beauty of horse sports at a historic facility high atop the Blue Ridge Mountains.

As the longest continuously-held fundraising event for Duke Children’s Hospital, the Jump for the Children Horse Show is now in its 34th year. Also a USEF ‘AA’ rated show, participants compete for cash prizes and points over six days at the Governor James B. Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh each fall.

A thrilling spectacle at the show is the Duke Children’s Grand Prix, a jumping competition with a top prize of $50,000. A number of Olympic and International team show jumpers have taken the prize over the years.

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service!

Happy 100th birthday to the National Park Service (NPS)!

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act establishing the NPS as an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior to coordinate administration of the then 37 national parks and monuments. Today the NPS oversees 412 parks, monuments, and other conservation and historic properties.

In 1926, 10 years after establishment of the NPS, creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was authorized. Covering 522,427 acres, almost evenly divided between the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, the park is today the most visited of the 59 national parks, attracting over 9 million visitors annually. More than 1,660 kinds of flowering plants can be found along its more than 800 miles of tended trails.

Here are a few postcards from the North Carolina Collection’s postcards collection showing the beauty and wonder of this special place:





Wrightsville Beach scene, 1906 style


There may be a month left to go this solar summer, but the summer travel season will be wrapping up between now and Labor Day.  For those whose oceanside vacation still awaits, you will probably notice that the beach fashion scene has changed a wee bit in the past 110 years!  I doubt any records would have been broken at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with athletes wearing these anti-hydrodynamical outfits.

Thanks for the cards, Mr. Barbour

Among the jewels of the North Carolina Collection are more than 15,000 postcards. And we have one man to thank for about 8,000 of those items—Durwood Barbour. For 25 years, Barbour combed through boxes at coin and postcard shows looking for images that told stories of bygone people, places and doings in his native state. His collection, housed mostly in shoeboxes, grew so large and valuable that he worried about keeping it at his home in Raleigh. In 2006, he generously donated it to the North Carolina Collection. We learned on Sunday that Barbour died on March 2. He was 87.

Barbour was born in the Barbourtown section of Johnston County, an area near Four Oaks. His parents were farmers and he grew up helping in the fields. In 1948 Barbour enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill. He was the first in his immediate family to attend college and he told an interviewer in 2010 that he earned the money for tuition by raising sweet potatoes. Barbour graduated from UNC-CH in 1952 with a degree in geology, and, shortly thereafter, he began work as an asphalt engineer for the state highway department, where he remained for many years. Barbour made his home in Raleigh with his wife and two sons. Later in life, Barbour sold real estate. He was an active member of two Raleigh Methodist churches, including Edenton Street United Methodist, where his memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday. Barbour was also a local historian, working with Todd Johnson, executive director of the Johnston County Heritage Center, to produce a book of images of his native county in 1997.

Barbour’s interest in postcards grew from his hobby of collecting coins and paper money. His wife, Mary Anne, recalled in 2010 that there were frequently a few boxes of postcards at numismatic shows. As her husband perused tables with coins and paper money, she looked at the postcards. Eventually Barbour, too, turned his interest to postcards. And we’re thankful he did.

As a tribute to Durwood Barbour, here are a few postcards of places or activities that represent significant parts of his life. All of Barbour’s postcards—and a few thousand more—are available via North Carolina Postcards.

Barbour's Grove in Four Oaks, NC
Though his relationship to K.F. Barbour is unclear, Durwood Barbour was born near Four Oaks in 1929.
Main Street of Four Oaks
The town of Four Oaks in the early 20th century.
New East at UNC Chapel Hill
New East at UNC-Chapel Hill served as the longtime home for the university’s geology department. Durwood Barbour graduated from UNC in 1952 with a degree in geology.
Postcard of early Mule Days parade
Benson’s Mule Days, which takes place the fourth weekend in September, has celebrated Johnston County’s agricultural heritage since 1950.

Road paving
Durwood Barbour began work for North Carolina’s highway department as an asphalt engineer shortly after earning his undergraduate degree.
Postcard of Edenton Street United Methodist Church
Durwood Barbour was an active member of Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh.

Haunted North Carolina: Outer Banks

On this last day of our ghostly journey, we head to the Outer Banks of North Carolina where tales of pirates and mysterious shipwrecks abound.

Blackbeard - Outer_Banks_NC

Ocracoke Island is home to the final resting place of the notorious pirate Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard. It was here, at Teach’s Hole, in 1718, that Blackbeard’s career of plundering was brought to a dramatic and violent end. Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Royal Navy, on orders of Virginia governor Alexander Spotswood, attacked Blackbeard’s ship The Adventure. A bloody battle ensued, ending with the famed pirate’s death. The story goes that Lt. Maynard threw Blackbeard’s headless body into the waters of Ocracoke Inlet. The pirate’s captured crew looked on as his body swam three laps around the ship before sinking to the watery depths below. Maynard affixed Blackbeard’s head to the bowsprit of his ship as proof of the pirate’s death. Apparently, Blackbeard‘s ghost still haunts Teach’s Hole, crying out and searching for its head.

Carroll A Deering - Wreck_of_the

Shipwreck stories from North Carolina’s Outer Banks are common enough; but, the story of the wreck of the Carroll A. Deering remains one of the most mysterious. The Carroll A. Deering was a massive, five-masted commercial schooner. On her return voyage from Brazil to Virginia, the Carroll A. Deering met her fate off Cape Hatteras in January, 1921. A keeper at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse reported seeing the ship on January 19th. Two days later, the Coast Guard discovered the ship run aground at Diamond Shoals, an infamous area for shipwrecks. Due to storms off the coast, it was another four days before the waters were calm enough for the Coast guard to approach the ship. February 4th, 1921, the Coast Guard boarded the Carroll A. Deering only to find it abandoned. But, more than just the crewmembers were unaccounted for; all personal effects, lifeboats, navigational equipment, and ship documentation were missing. What they did find was evidence suggesting a hasty departure. Despite an extensive investigation by the US government, no one knows what happened to the crew of the Carroll A. Deering. Many theories have surfaced including piracy, hurricanes, and mutiny. Some even blame paranormal activity, citing the Bermuda Triangle as the culprit to the disappearance of the ship’s crew.

Haunted North Carolina: Eastern NC

Today we travel to battlefields and cemeteries of Eastern NC for our daily dose of paranormal activity.

Bentonville - Union_Army_Trenches_Built_in_1865


Four Oaks, NC, was home to the last major Confederate offensive against General Sherman’s Union army. The Battle of Bentonville, which lasted three days, is the largest battle in North Carolina history and some say remnants of the fight linger. Visitors to the Bentonville Battleground State Historic Site recount experiencing the sounds and smells of battle: shouts, rifle shots, cannon fire, gun smoke, and even burning flesh. Harper House, which stands on the battlefield, is also rumored to be haunted. The house served as a hospital for both the Union and Confederate armies. The structure is now a museum. Staff, civil war re-enactors, and visitors describe seeing ghosts in the home’s windows and walking the surrounding grounds. Soldiers from both sides and John Harper, the owner of the house, are among the haunts reported.


Message on front of card: “Here, the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.”

Cedar Grove Cemetery was established in 1800 to serve as the resting place for victims of yellow fever in New Bern, NC. In 1854, workers built a wall, including an elaborate entryway known as the Weeping Arch, around the graveyard. The arch is said to have a chilling ability to predict the future. According to legend, the arch weeps for all the dead who pass underneath. Occasionally it sheds a tear for the living, too. And, if it does, that person will soon die. What’s more, the arch’s tears are not ordinary ones. Instead, they’re tears of blood.

Haunted North Carolina: Triangle

Today’s spectral travels take us to the Triangle area where some residents never want to leave.


The Carolina Inn on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus was built by alumnus John Sprunt Hill. This historic inn has served Chapel Hill guests since 1924, including some guests who supposedly never checked out. Among the inn’s most popular ghosts is Dr. William Jacocks, previously a physician with the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation. Dr. Jacocks lived in room 256 (room 252 in his time) from 1948 until his death in 1965. But, visitors staying in the doctor’s old room believe that his spirit lingers. Known as a gentle joker in life, Dr. Jacocks seems to have carried his love of pranks into the afterlife. The doctor’s ghost sometimes locks guests from room 256 or moves furniture and personal belongings. People say they have seen him in the hallway trying each of the doors as he moves down the corridor. When visitors speak with him, he vanishes. Dr. Jacock’s is just one of many spirits reportedly haunting the Carolina Inn. Like the doctor, most of them are said to be friendly.

Mordecai House

The Mordecai House of Raleigh, NC, was originally built by Joel Lane for his son Henry in 1785. The house is named for Moses Mordecai, who married Joel Lane’s granddaughter, Margaret, in 1817. The home was once the hub of the largest plantation in Wake County. Today, the house is renovated as a museum in Mordecai Historic Park and is open to the public for tours. Tour guides and guests say that family photos fly from the walls when the Mordecai’s name is mentioned. They also report encounters with the ghost of Mary Willis Mordecai Turk, a descendant of Moses Mordecai, who is sometimes seen playing the piano in the drawing room.


North Carolina’s State Capitol Building in Raleigh was built in 1840 and is one of the best preserved capitol buildings in the country. It served as the base for all of North Carolina’s state government until 1888. Today the Capitol houses the offices of the governor and the lieutenant governor. Building employees have reported hearing unexplained footsteps, sounds of locked doors slamming, and books falling to the ground. Some people claim to have actually seen ghostly figures. More than one person heard a piercing scream with no explanation, and several people felt a presence when they were alone in the building. The building is open for tours and other events, so visit and see for yourself if there are any paranormal happenings.


Haunted North Carolina: Mountains

There’s nothing like a good ghost story to get you in the mood for Halloween.  This week we will bring you stories of haunted houses, friendly ghosts, and lingering spirits from each region of the Old North State.


Edwin Wiley Grove first opened the Grove Park Inn in 1913. Located in Asheville, NC, this picturesque hotel is rumored to be haunted by a ghost that people call the Pink Lady. Apparently this woman, who is identified by the pink color of her dress, fell (voluntarily or not) from the balcony of room 545 and tragically died nearly one hundred years ago. Guests and hotel employees have told stories of doors and windows in the room where she stayed that mysteriously open and close on their own, along with lights and other electrical devices throughout the inn turning on and off independently. Other guests have seen a pink mist, felt the Pink Lady sitting on their beds, holding their hands, or told stories of her comforting sick children. Maybe if you go to the Grove Park Inn and stay in room 545, you will see this friendly ghost, or feel her tickling your feet while you lay in bed.


Grandfather Mountain, aptly named due to its profile resembling that of a bearded old man lying down, is a popular hiking destination near Linville, NC. There are many miles of hiking trails on the mountain, and people tell stories of seeing a solitary hiker walking along the twisty paths at dusk. He never acknowledges those he passes, his clothes appear to be from many decades past, and he vanishes from sight. This is the Phantom Hiker of Grandfather Mountain, and no one knows who he was or why his spirit haunts the mountain. But, if you go for a visit you might catch a glimpse of him.



George Washington Vanderbilt constructed the magnificent Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, as a vacation home for his family. He and his wife Edith spent much of their time enjoying their impressive library full of antiques, artwork, and famous editions, along with throwing opulent parties. George died in 1914, less than twenty years after his cherished house was completed. But, some say George’s spirit never left the house and that he still visits his library, especially on stormy nights. People also report hearing the voice of his wife, Edith, calling George’s name, or the sounds of party guests laughing or playing music as they walk around the lavishly decorated, empty rooms.

Artifact of the Month: Grove Park Inn promotional booklet

As the days grow humid, who doesn’t yearn for some cool mountain air? Our June Artifact of the Month is an early-20th-century booklet advertising Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, a historic resort hotel that first opened in 1913. Built by Edwin Wiley Grove and his friend and son-in-law Thomas Seely, the Inn “was built in the old-fashioned way — full of rest, comfort, and wholesomeness.”

grove park inn cover


The inside of booklet, which features black-and-white photographs of the hotel’s lobby and various rooms, describes the luxuries of the hotel. No detail is too minute for this sixteen-page publication. It addresses plumbing: “The toilet seats are celluloid. No pipes are visible anywhere.” Lighting: “No electric bulbs visible. All lighting indirect.” Furnishings: “Not a double bed in the Inn. Double rooms have two three-quarter beds and single rooms have one.” Ice: “All refrigeration is artificial. Ice not used.”

grove park inn page

The place is kept pristine and they insist on maintaining a homelike atmosphere. “The cleaning is done with Hoover Vacuum Cleaners,” the booklet declares. In the “Big Room,” or lobby, you will be greeted by the “world’s finest Orchestral Organ,” a description of which appears on the back cover of the booklet.

“One of the curses of the ordinary hotel,” reads one of the pages, “is the lack of consideration for guests who need rest or care to retire before midnight.” But Grove Park guests need not worry: the Inn has the art of comfort perfected as “employees wear rubber heels.”

Maids report for service at 8:00 a.m., but are provided with comfortable chairs in their corridors for reading until quiet hours end at 9:00 a.m. And the ceilings of the Big Room are one foot thick so no noise will penetrate into the rooms of sleeping guests.

This postcard from the same era as the booklet shows an interior view of the “Big Room” at night.

Amongst these extravagances, Park Grove prides itself on being “Absolutely Fireproof”:

“It is absolutely fireproof built of the great boulders of Sunset Mountain, at the foot of which it sits.”

With this extreme focus on comfort, it’s no wonder ten U.S. Presidents and countless luminaries from the worlds of art, entertainment, sports, and politics have stayed at this hotel.

In an atmosphere that prides itself on luxury and affording every opportunity for a good time, one rule comes across as surprising:

grove park inn liquor
“It is unlawful for the management to provide or sell liquors to guests of this hotel.”

A little sleuthing reveals that this nifty little booklet was published in 1920 — at the dawn of Prohibition.

You may consider adding Grove Park to your list of NC vacationing spots, as the hotel is still open today – although in 2013, on its hundredth birthday, the classic Ashville Inn was purchased by Omni hotels. If the luxury isn’t enough to lure you, here’s some additional enticement: “The altitude forbids humidity and heat even on the warmest summer days,” tempts the booklet, “There are no mosquitos.”


This animation switches between the booklet’s centerfold photo and a colorized postcard featuring the same image.