Sights to See: Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, & Fort Fisher in Pleasure Island

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area & Historic Site

A visit to the Fort Fisher State Park Recreation Area and Civil War Museum is rich in both natural beauty and American history.

As you cross Snow’s Cut bridge onto Pleasure Island, you reach Fort Fisher by driving through both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

Fort Fisher comprises the southern end of Pleasure Island and is home to a fascinating Civil War Museum on the site of an authentic Civil War fort as well as miles of undeveloped, pristine beaches.

Fort Fisher is also home to a variety of endangered species including loggerhead turtles who make their nests here.

Read below for more details and visit our Where to Play  directory for more links and resources on Fort Fisher.

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Fisher State Historic Site - Civil War Landmark

Fort Fisher was constructed in 1861 during the Civil War in order to protect the port of Wilmington, just a few miles up the Cape Fear River, from Union Forces. Near the end of the war, this was the last port open to trade and the role of Fort Fisher in the war became crucial. Two battles were fought at Fort Fisher, in 1864 and 1865. It was during this second battle, in 1865, when the fort was captured. Only 3 months later, the Civil War was over.

Visit the Fort Fisher Civil War site and tour the grounds where this fateful battle was fought. The accompanying Civil War Museum shows a model of this battle of Fort Fisher, illustrating the Union Forces attack and the Confederate defense of the fort. You can also view Native American artifacts from the time before the fort existed including arrowheads and pottery fragments. In addition, a smaller museum called “Hidden Beneath the Waves” houses an underwater archaeology exhibit on local shipwreck dive sites and Cape Fear maritime history.

 - The Fort Fisher State Historic Site is located at 1610 Fort Fisher Blvd, Kure Beach, NC.

Fort Fisher in World War II

Seventy five years after the fall of Fort Fisher in the Civil War, this area became the primary firing range for Camp David, established 30 miles north of Wilmington, NC in 1940 during the Second World War. This firing range at Fort Fisher existed until 1944 and you can still visit a World War II bunker built here.

The Fort Fisher Hermit

In fact, the renowned Fort Fisher Hermit (62 year old Robert E. Harrill) lived in this WWII bunker for 17 years, from 1955 until 1972. The “Hermit” lived off the land, eating seafood he could catch and whatever he was able to grow. He also accepted donations from his many visitors over the years. People heard of and came to visit the “Hermit” to listen to his philosophies and imparted wisdom throughout his stay there. Many people have written about the Fort Fisher Hermit and at least one movie has been made about him.

Fort Fisher State Park Recreation Area

Beyond the WWII bunker, the Civil War museum, and the beautiful sandy beaches of Fort Fisher, you’ll find another network of islands including Zeke’s Island and a rock jetty known as The Rocks. These are part of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). This area is home to a variety of habitats including salt marshes, sea forests, tidal flats, sand dunes, beach, and rocks. Threatened and endangered species can be found in this area of Fort Fisher, including Loggerhead sea turtles who build their nests on the beaches. This area is used for research and education and is also a popular site for recreation – you can walk, boat, swim, fish, or just take in the natural beauty of this most unusual area of the entire North Carolina coast.

 - The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is located at 1000 Loggerhead Rd, Kure Beach, NC.

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