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Home North Carolina Carteret County City of Pine Knoll Shores Historical Markers Verrazzano


NC-58, Pine Knoll Shores, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Florentine sailing under French flag. His voyage along the coast in 1524 marked the first recorded European contact with North Carolina."
     In 1524 the greater part of the present east coast of the United States, including North Carolina, was first described by a European, Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine navigator sailing for King Francis I of France. The point where Verrazzano first sighted land has never been established conclusively but is understood by many to have been at the mouth of the Cape Fear, a few minutes south of the 34th parallel.

However, Verrazzano and his men traveled further up the coast before putting ashore, recording:

We departed this place (Cape Fear vicinity), still running along the coast, which we found to trend toward the east, and we saw everywhere very great fires, by reason of the multitude of the inhabitants. While we rode on that coast, partly because it had no harbor, and for that we wanted water, we sent our boat ashore with twenty-five men. . . .

Heavy seas kept the boat from landing, but one man swam ashore, where he was met by a group of Indians and “cried out piteously.” Initially fearful for his life, he was welcomed around “a great fire” and, after a while, allowed to return to the ship.

It is unclear where along the North Carolina coast that Verrazzano and his crew first made contact. Cases can be made for Brunswick and Onslow Counties as well as Carteret County. In recent years, in fact, a real estate development in the Cape Fear region has taken the name “Landfall” for the event. In defense of the Pine Knoll Shores site in Carteret it is pointed out that the geographical landmass on Bogue Banks is the only spot along the explorer’s route where the land “trend(s)” toward the east. The text of the marker was crafted to avoid making a claim for any one location.

Lawrence C. Wroth, Voyages of Giovanni da Verrazzano (1970)
Samuel Eliot Morison, European Discovery of America: Northern Voyages (1971)
David Leroy Corbitt, Explorations, Descriptions, and Attempted Settlements of Carolina,      1584-1590 (1953)
George E. London, “First to Land in North Carolina,” The State (September 1986), 14-15