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“Shrunken heads, Turpentine Stills, and Andre the Giant, Let's go, Mom!”

The Rankin Museum of American Heritage
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Ellerbe
Attraction details
Mebane, North Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
159 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 169 helpful votes
“Shrunken heads, Turpentine Stills, and Andre the Giant, Let's go, Mom!”
Reviewed 18 August 2014

My nine year old daughter and I visited here today, just for something different. We had driven down that way to pick up some peaches, and decided to stop in. We were the only visitors during the hour or so we were there.

Now Dr. Rankin seems to have had a broad range of interests, ranging from big-game hunting to local history to fossils to American Indians. Most of the time, a museum that tried to cover all these bases would end up looking like someone's storage closet, or my garage on a bad day.... However, this smallish museum has arranged all these components into a wonderful collection of displays that almost guarantee to provide every visitor with SOMETHING that will catch their eye.

While I cannot begin to describe everything in there, let me give you a few that stood out to me: A full sized turpentine still (from the time when that was a major industry in SE North Carolina), A fully mounted polar bear, cowboy boot from Andre the Giant (Former pro wrestler, died near Ellerbe where he was living), shrunken head from the Amazon, Pee Dee Indian pots that a small child could hide in, an oak splint basket from Cleveland Jacobs, the last Lumbee Indian basket maker of that type, and fossil mammoth tusks and shark teeth. There is also an old dugout canoe roughly 12 feet long, and a small fossil dig for the little kids. There is a decent little gift shop, and the lady who was there was very friendly and obviously proud of the museum. The fee is $4 for adults, $1 for kids, and well worth the price.

If you have any interest in the history of the Cape Fear region, you would do well to plan a visit here. I might add that this area is one of NC's peach growing centers, so pick a peck (or two) of peaches while you are in the area. You'll be glad you did.

As always, Happy motoring!

Visited August 2014
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16 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Lafayette, Colorado
1 review
“TRIP TO THE PAST”
Reviewed 19 July 2014

I loved this museum and was amazed by all the artifacts that had been collected. My brother and I were particularly pleased and astounded to see our grandfather AJ Butler's turpentine still on display. We had not seen it since we were toddlers in Hoffman, NC. I don't actually remember when my brother and I visited the museum, so I could not fill out all these questions. It was before the August 2013 date, which was the earliest you permitted. The visit itself made a big impression on us both. Cornelia Snider Yarrington of Lafayette, Colorado

Visited August 2013
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Thank Cornelia Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pinehurst, North Carolina
Level 5 Contributor
92 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“What a treat - in an unlikely place!”
Reviewed 1 February 2014

I had "heard" that the Rankin Museum was quite amazing, but we'd never made the trip until today. We were shocked, as we saw things we've never seen in larger, more prestigious museums. Here we were in this small town, 30 minutes from home, with no other visitors, looking at an extraordinary collection. Extraordinary, beautifully displayed, for $4.00 each. We (my husband and I took my 83 year old uncle) all found surprise after surprise. We were like kids pointing out this and that to each other. What a gem!!! I have a new place to take visitors and look forward to going back again and again. Truly we just couldn't absorb it all. Wonderful visit.

Visited February 2014
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1 Thank 2Perky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
North Carolina
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Remarkable Museum in an Unlikely Place”
Reviewed 24 June 2013

Tiny Ellerbe (1,000 population) hosts the Rankin Museum of American Heritage, which displays artifacts from the Americas, mounted animals from Africa, and pottery, implements, and industrial, farm, and home equipment from earlier times in the region. Building on the lifetime collection of Dr. Pressley Rankin, Jr., supplemented through purchases and donations, the museum features impressively arranged displays in a 5,000 square foot set of rooms, many with murals as backgrounds.

Areas of interest include geology, paleontology, and Southern heritage, the latter featuring local history, and displays of pottery, early industry, farming, and rural handicrafts. There's something here for everybody. There is a modest gift shop. It's not far from Southern Pines (30 miles) and Charlotte (80 miles), and accessible over good roads.

Visited June 2013
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2 Thank Love2getaround
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 3 Contributor
19 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Great Hidden Gem!”
Reviewed 8 August 2012 via mobile

The American Indian collection is amazing, spanning North, Central, and South America. This museum also has a nice collection of fossils, minerals, mounted animals, and a unique display on the naval stores industry. Great for young and old alike!

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1 Thank waxapahaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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