From Blackbeard's ship off of the Atlantic coast, to an abandoned theme park in the mountains, North Carolina hides many secrets. In fact, an entire underground mall collects dust right beneath a busy portion of the state's capital and for decades, nobody even knew.
So, for historians who love a good mystery, and for urban explorers looking for a bit of creepy adventure, here are seven deserted pieces of North Carolina history stretching from the mountains to the coast -- perfect for a road trip, any time of year!
1. The Village Subway in Raleigh, NC
The Village Subway, an underground series of shops, clubs, and restaurants, was a wildly popular hangout for youth in the 1970's. Even people like Jimmy Buffett and R.E.M. spent time rattling in Raleigh's underground. However, when it closed in the early 1980's, the Subway's owners paved over the main entrance and sealed the memories away.
For over 30 years, the area above ground continued growing, and thousands of people walk over the buried mall every day, with no idea what grand memories lie beneath them.
2. St. Agnes Hospital in Raleigh, NC
St. Agnes Hospital was one of the first hospitals in the country to focus solely on high-level care for African Americans. Established in 1896, it offered training programs, education, and jobs for black nurses. So profound and respected was its impact on society, that even the KKK donated money for the cause. Its stone carcass, gutted from the inside and crawling with kudzu and mud, stands today--a reminder of the sad history of segregation, and a monument to what people can achieve even in a broken society.
3. Shell Station in Winston-Salem, NC
This odd sight on the Winston-Salem cityscape is one of the few remaining original Shell Stations. From a time when good marketing meant having eye-catching, gauche structures, this monument to impracticality reminds of us an era when gas prices were low, and a station needed only one pump to be sustainable.
4. Catsburg Country Store in Durham, NC
Another old-timey monument to simpler times, the Catsburg Country store looks like something out of an old western. Operated by Sheriff Eugene G. Belvin in the 1920's, nicknamed "Cat," this storefront is surrounded by dark rumors, as many believe he used the store to scare off competition for his side business -- running an illegal distillery.
5. Blackbeard's Ship, Beaufort, NC
Because of the Outer Banks, small islands, sandbars, and hurricanes, North Carolina's ports were notoriously difficult to navigate and deadly for ship captains. National Geographic recently reported that even Blackbeard himself fell victim to the treacherous waters, as the sunken remains of Queen Anne's Revenge lay beneath the waves near Beaufort.
6. Castle Mont Rouge, in Rougemont, NC
Abandoned castles capture the imagination. Who might have lived there? What might still be lurking? In fact, North Carolina has several abandoned castles, of which Castle Mont Rouge is one of the more famous. People have tried to raise money to restore this medieval fantasy, but, as efforts have failed, the hidden gem has become neglected and marred with graffiti. If you want to find it, it's tucked away in the woods of Rougemont, North Carolina.
7. North Wilkesboro Speedway
A crumbling remnant of some of NASCAR's finest moments, the North Wilkesboro Speedway enjoyed fame from the late 1940's through the mid 1990's. While the track is officially closed, fans sometimes visit, drive around, and recall the glory days.
Whether deep in the wooded mountains, beneath our outer banks, or hiding under the streets of a big city, our state holds many secrets. If you have any photos or stories of hidden or abandoned places, please share them. We'd love to go exploring again.