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Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Explore The ‘Lost Colony’ – The First English Settlement in The United States
English settlers came here in 1587, establishing what became the first English settlement in the United States. Led by Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh, colonists settled on this spot on the north end of Roanoke Island, about three miles north of the present-day site of Manteo. Despite the bounty of the New World, the settlers depended on supply ships from England, and those ships failed to arrive on time. When supply shipments resumed in 1590, visitors found the site abandoned, with no survivors in sight – what became of the “Lost Colony” remains a mystery. Later, the Union Army occupied the island and established a contraband camp for slave refugees.

Today, this spot is preserved as the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Start your day at the visitor center, which explains the local heritage, starting with the Algonquian Indians and running through modern times. Next, take in a showing of “The Lost Colony,” an outdoor symphonic drama put on at the Waterside Theatre. Hike the short Thomas Hariot Trail to discover the maritime forest or visit the First Light of Freedom monument, which commemorates the Freedman’s Colony. Make sure to check out the earthwork marking where the original colonists made their camp.