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7 Things You Didn’t Know About Elizabeth City

Posted on 10/13/2022 by Visit Elizabeth City

Aerial Elizabeth City Shoreline buildings and boats

You may know Elizabeth City because of its 20th century architecture or craft breweries, but you probably don’t know its connection to the invention of the airplane or the evolution of billiards. Read on to learn 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Elizabeth City:

1.    Mariners’ Wharf

On a Sunday afternoon in 1983, Fred L. Fearing and Joseph P. Kramer II, hosted a gathering for the mariners. Joe clipped his own rosebuds to welcome seventeen boats and their crews. The Rose Buddies tradition began and the Harbor of Hospitality® was born. When Joe passed away in 1987, his rose bushes were transplanted to Mariners’ Wharf Park. They continue to provide blooms for visitors and color for the “locals” who stop by the docks. Today, visitors can enjoy 48-hour, free dockage, and free Wi-Fi, access to restrooms and hot showers. Additionally, visitors love that they just need to take a few steps to reach downtown shopping and restaurants. The wharf also hosts the Downtown Waterfront Market, Music on the Green concerts and an annual summer film festival!


2.    Coast Guard City

US Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City entrance helicopter and boatDid you know that Elizabeth City is an official Coast Guard city? The Coast Guard Base in the waterfront city is the largest on the East coast, and second in the nation at over 800 acres. Its Aviation Logistics Center made famous in the movie The Guardian with Kevin Costner & Ashton Kutcher.  The Avitation Technical Training Center is home to the world class Rescue Swimmer training program. Elizabeth City, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard nationally and Base Elizabeth City locally, as well as many other local partners, proudly host the first and only Coast Guard sanctioned road race — the Coast Guard Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K.


3.    Underground Railroad Sites

Underground Railroad marker Pasquotank RiverHome to 6 regional sites designated as a part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program, Elizabeth City’s importance in the secret network for escaped slaves is hard to understate. Between 1793 and 1804, slaves were forced to create the Dismal Swamp Canal, and afterwards used their in-depth knowledge to hide in the unforgiving canal’s namesake swamp – sometimes for years. The Pasquotank River, which runs through the city, was also recognized by the program and is the first river in the United States to receive this distinction. 


4.    Aviation Trail Sites

Before the Wright Brothers ever lifted off the ground, they had to first travel by railroad to the hub of North Carolina; Elizabeth City. After eventually continuing their quest in the frequent winds and soft sand of Kitty Hawk, they would visit the bustling commercial city frequently to recruit the “world’s first flight crew”, get supplies, and buy the materials for the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft. Take the Aviation Trail to walk in the shoes to 11 such sites.



5.    N.C. Potato Festival

If you’ve never been to northeast North Carolina’s biggest festival, you’re missing a celebration of one of the state’s most significant crops – the potato. Held in Elizabeth City, the three-day, family festival features food, arts and crafts, live entertainment, a Kick Off Party, and the National Potato Peeling Contest! 


6.    Luther "Wimpy" LassiterLuther Wimpy Lassiter

One of the best billiard players of all time honed his skills in the former City Billiards hall in downtown Elizabeth City. The owner of the pool room, Speedy Ives, let the Elizabeth City native, Luther Lassiter, enter through the back door and perfect his game whenever he wanted - as long as he cleaned the floor and swept the tables. He went on to become a winner of six world billiard championships and other, numerous titles.



7.    Dismal Swamp Canal

The Dismal Swamp Canal is the oldest, continually operating, man-made canal in the United States. The canal begins in Elizabeth City, was opened in 1805, covers approximately a million acres, and is filled with stories as plentiful as the Dismal Swamp itself. From escaped slave, Moses Grandy, who helped create the swamp and went on to write a memoir that had a major impact on the abolitionist movement, to its important strategic position during the Civil War, there’s plenty to uncover and explore.The Dismal Swamp

These are just a few of the things you might not know about Elizabeth City. To truly learn all its secrets, we invite you to visit the “Harbor of Hospitality” and explore for yourself! Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date on all our happenings and stories! Share your vacation photos with us #VisitECity.

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