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!