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“Not bad ”

Fort Fisher State Historic Site
Ranked #2 of 10 things to do in Kure Beach
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: At the dawn of the American Civil War, the Confederacy took control of land in southeastern North Carolina near one of the two outlets to the Atlantic Ocean from the Cape Fear River. Fort Fisher was the largest earthwork fortification in the Confederacy and was constructed to protect this vital opening. Ships running the Federal blockade of the port of Wilmington, known as blockade runners, supplied necessary goods to Confederate armies inland. By late 1863, the supply line through Wilmington was the last remaining supply route open to Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The Federal Army and Navy attacked Fort Fisher December 24, 1864. After two days of fighting with little headway, Federal commanders concluded that the fort was too strong to assault and withdrew their forces. However, they returned for a second attempt on January 12, 1865. For two and one-half days, Federal ships bombarded the fort on both land and sea face. On the fifteenth, more than 3,300 Union infantry, including the 27th U.S. Colored Troops, assaulted the land face. After several hours of fierce hand-to-hand combat, Federal troops captured the fort that night. The Confederate army evacuated their remaining forts in the Cape Fear area, and within weeks Union forces overran Wilmington. Once Wilmington fell, the supply line of the Confederacy was severed, and the Civil War was soon over. This site has been declared national historic landmark. Along with a restored palisade fence, approximately ten percent of the fort still stands. Guided tours, outside panel makers and museum exhibits provide a historical point of reference. Shaded by gnarled live oaks, a scenic trail leads tourists from the visitor center past the gigantic earthworks and around to the rear of the fort. Visitors are invited to tour the remains of the fort's land face featuring an impressive reconstruction of a 32-pounder seacoast gun at Shepherd's Battery. Fort Fisher State Historic Site is located in Kure Beach on what was then known as Federal Point and today as Pleasure Island.
Reviewed 26 July 2014 via mobile

Wasn't overly spectacular compared to some other museums in the area but it was still very cool to stop at. Inside the building there was only a few displays and then it had a short walking tour outside that you can take the guided tour or do it yourself. We did the self guided tour and it wasn't overly spectacular either. The signs on the walkway need to be updated because they are barely legible.

Thank sammyrae6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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211 - 215 of 406 reviews

Reviewed 22 July 2014

While in Wilmington NC we drove down past Carolina beach and stopped by the Fort Fisher site. The museum is small you can spend 30 minutes in the building and see everything. If you don't like to read all the information telling about the artifacts then you can see it all pretty quick. Out side they have a replica cannon along with men dressed in period clothing. They will tell you about what it was like to fire the cannon and answer any questions. We did not walk around the fort outside due the heat. It would be a very nice place to spend time walking around, but in the cooler months.
Over all if your going that way anyway you should stop in and see it. It's just up the road from the aquarium and this stop costs nothing. Unless you have kids and they find the gift shop.

1  Thank Jim F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2014

Nice place to visit especially if raining at beach. Well done site with good history and exhibits. Definitely tour grounds and stop across street for beach views. Friendly and knowledgeable staff.

1  Thank Mike N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 July 2014

This was the one beach where I knew our dog was allowed during the summer. It was a perfect spot. Not too crowded. There were about 4 other dogs around (all on leash) so it was definitely dog-friendly. This was further from our hotel than most other Wilmington-area beaches but worth it. Nice place. Good beach.

2  Thank KarmaKP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 June 2014

My wife and I took a trip to Fort Fisher this past Saturday for the June special event. The special event was supposed to include tours led by costumed historians and cannon fire. We arrived and noticed right away the poor state of the outside of the buildings. The restrooms were dirty and there was urine surrounding all of the urinals and on the toilet seats in the men's bathroom. Once inside, we asked when the next cannon fire would occur(we heard a gun fire when we first parked). The employee at the information desk was too busy texting on her phone to look at us. She said "I don't know" to her phone, never looking up at us. There were no tours given, so we walked around the path around the fort ourselves. There were signs along the route, but none were readable. We asked a worker about the cannon, and he said it would be fired in 20 minutes. It was raining, but a group of visitors walked in the rain to the designated spot. A group of costumed workers sat several yards away from us, ignoring us for at least 15 minutes. As the rain kept coming down, the workers all of a sudden got up, walked up to the cannon, and with a 30 second warning, fired the cannon. A worker then came over and explained the process of cannon fire while they fired another round. The last part was cool, but the mean worker, no guided tour as promised, dirty bathrooms, and being ignored by the costumed workers in the steady rain for several minutes led me to give the terrible review.

6  Thank cubs9erswin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
John M, Assistant Site Manager at Fort Fisher State Historic Site, responded to this reviewResponded 10 July 2014

Dear cubs9erswin,

Thank you for visiting Fort Fisher State Historic Site. I am sorry to read of your negative experience while visiting Fort Fisher on our program day. I would like to take this opportunity to address your issues.

I can understand your frustrations with the condition of the facilities. Fort Fisher is a state owned and operated historic site. Funding for the site has been cut every year for the past several years despite the fact it has the highest visitation numbers within the Division of State Historic Sites. We do everything we can with the funding provided to us. Unfortunately, the lack of funding does not allow us to do everything that needs to be done. When the Visitor Center was built in the 1960s, it was estimated Fort Fisher would see about 25,000 people a year. We had nearly 3,800 people attend our program that day, not including people just going to the beach, despite the rainy weather. Now 50 years later, the site sees over 500,000 visitors a year.

This increase in visitation has been both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing to have such great public interest in the site for its history and what can be learned about it. On the other hand we also get tens of thousands of visitors every year, particularly in the summer who use Fort Fisher State Historic Site as a public beach access because of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the convenience of the museum rest rooms. Those visitors do not treat the site with the respect it deserves as a designated National Historic Battlefield and Landmark. All we can do is clean up the mess and whenever possible redirect people to the designated beach accesses.

To address the condition of the bathrooms, we do check them for cleanliness on a regular basis. I would like to know at what time you came by so I can check our bathroom cleaning logs from that day. According to the schedule, the bathrooms were checked by staff four times that Saturday. The toilet seats are discolored from the constant use, sunscreen rubbed off from people’s legs, and poor water quality. Even after they are cleaned they never look pristine. The bathroom is used mainly as a bath house by beach goers, not the type of use for which that facility was built. We do not have enough staff members to post in each restroom all day everyday to turn away visitors who use it to wash off sand and change clothes.

The individual behind the front desk in the museum you encountered was not an employee of the site but a videographer who was scheduled to film an interview with one of the site staff members. She should not have been behind the desk. That issue has been addressed.

We are fully aware of the poor quality of the signage along the tour trail. The ones in place now are over 20 years old. Weather and vandalism has taken its toll on them. I am happy to inform you we are in the process of replacing all of them. The Friends of Fort Fisher, our non-profit support group, have been raising money from private donations for this project for over a year. Currently, we are on schedule to have all of the wayside exhibits along the trail replaced by December 2014.

All program press releases are sent out with the stipulation that programs are subject to modification or cancellation due to the weather or other unforeseen circumstances out of our control. As for the cancellation of the costumed tours and the delay of the cannon demonstration, the State of North Carolina safety guidelines we are required to follow, for black powder weapons demonstrations, state we are not allowed to fire any weapon while there is an active thunderstorms in the vicinity of the site. The costumed tours and cannon demonstrations were either canceled or delayed because thunder was heard too close to the times these were to commence. Other tours, with the site’s historian, did go out after the storms cleared and it was deemed safe. The safety of both our visitors and our staff and volunteers is our top priority and trumps everything else, even a scheduled program.

As for the artillery demonstration that appeared to you to go off in 30 seconds with no warning, it can take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes to load and position the gun and even longer than that if it is wet from rain. While the artillery crew was performing the loading procedure, I introduced myself, talked about what was going to be happening and gave a safety warning prior to the first shot. It is required a warning be given prior to discharging any weapon for a demonstration.

The artillery crew members who shoot the cannons at Fort Fisher are all volunteers who give of their personal time and wear costumes (which are not cheap) they provide for themselves. That being the case, we do not ask our volunteers to do anything more than they are comfortable doing especially when the weather is not ideal. It is their time and personal property they put on the line whenever they come out to help us fire the cannon. Without their dedication and generosity we would not be able to fire the cannons no matter what the weather conditions because we do not have a big enough staff to do so on our own.

Once again, I apologize for your negative experience at Fort Fisher. I assure you we do everything we can given whatever the circumstances any given day presents and the resources available to us to make the site as clean, safe and educational as possible. I welcome any opportunity to talk further with you on your concerns and comments.

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