Bicycling through History

BICYCLING THROUGH HISTORY

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Pirates !!

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Sunken Treasure !!

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Edition 1

Edition 2

Edition 3

Edition 4

Edition 5

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Edition 8

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Roanoke Island

Situated between the barrier islands of the Outer Banks and the North Carolina mainland, Roanoke Island brims with reminders of its 16th century beginnings. The Island's two towns, Manteo and Wanchese, are named for the Algonkian Indians who befriended the English settlers and visited England as guests of Sir Walter Raleigh. Many of the streets, Simon Fernando, John Borden, Eleanor Dare, are named for the real-life adventurers who braved the journey across the sea. Businesses bear such names as the Elizabethan Inn and the 1587 Restaurant.

Described as a cross between Nantucket and Mayberry, it is no wonder that actor Andy Griffith, who began his acting career in The Lost Colony, makes Roanoke Island his year-round home. This tiny island nestled along the Pamlico Sound is one of the most historic pieces of real estate in the country. In the late 1500's, Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh made the first attempt at English colonization of America here--and failed miserably. The settlement of 117 men, women and children disappeared without a trace and became known as The Lost Colony. Though never found, they are not forgotten. A visit to Roanoke Island vividly illustrates the community's commitment to their memory. The nation's longest-running outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, recreates their tale on summer nights, and the remains of the original settlement can be seen at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The Roanoke Island Festival Park interprets the area's early history with a distinctive Elizabethan flare. This original settlement predated Jamestown by 22 years and Plymouth by 35.

One of the attractions to be found there today is a replica of an early sailing vessel, which brought colonists to this site. On board the ship, professional interpreters portray in dress, speech, manner, and attitude soldiers and mariners of the 16th century, regaling visitors with tales of sea voyages and the challenges of a new life in a strange land. In addition to shipboard tours, interpreters give hands-on demonstrations of aspects of 16th century life at The Settlement Site. Elizabeth II was named for one of the seven English vessels that sailed to Roanoke Island in 1585 on a voyage sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh. This was the second of three voyages sent by Raleigh between 1584 and 1587 to explore the area and establish a colony. All of these settlements failed, leaving history with the fascinating and persistent mystery of The Lost Colony. They did, however, lay the foundation for the success with England's first permanent settlement at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Captained by Thomas Cavendish, the original ship Elizabeth probably carried mariners, colonists, and supplies to be used in establishing a military garrison to support England's claim to the New World. The Elizabeth II is 69 feet long, 17 feet wide, and draws eight feet of water. Her main top mast is 65 feet. It is an authentic replica of a bark, or three-masted vessel of that era.

England's Queen Elizabeth I issued a charter to Sir Walter Raleigh to establish a colony on Roanoke Island in 1584. An expedition ensued and eventually took two intelligent natives, Manteo and Wanchese, along with promising reports of a new land, back to England. In 1585, another expedition which included artist John White, Thomas Hariot, and others made their way to Roanoke Island. These colonists only lasted through the winter and spring before accepting a ride back to England in June 1586 with Sir Francis Drake who was passing by enroute home from the West Indies.

Sir Richard Grenville arrived on Roanoke Island a few weeks later, only to find it deserted. He left fifteen of his own men to maintain England's claim to the new land. In 1587, John White returned to the same site leading another expedition that was bound for the Chesapeake Bay. With the intention of only stopping by to pick up the men left earlier by Grenville, the settlers were put ashore by a captain intent on returning to a privateering expedition. No trace of the 15 men were ever found. White returned to England. When he was finally able to return in 1590, these colonists had too disappeared, including his granddaughter Virginia Dare. The only clue to their disappearance was the word ''Croatoan'' carved on a tree.

Various theories have surfaced throughout the years as to what happened to the Lost Colony, and one by one, they seem to have been discounted. The Jamestown, Virginia settlers apparently tried to make contact. They also failed without finding any of the lost colonists. Records of the explorations have been documented, and they seem to have come close on several occasions to actually finding out the fate of the missing colonists. So, today, over 400 years have passed, and no one really knows the true story and probably no one ever will.

Officially established in 1899, Manteo now feels as though it is a much older town. Perhaps it is the prevalence of Elizabethan and Old World buildings that line the town's quiet streets. Or maybe it is the replica of a 16th century sailing vessel anchored in its harbor. Or it could be that the town's namesake is a 400 year-old Native American who assisted the original colonists way back when. Regardless, this town has a real sense of history that transcends its 100 year-old birth certificate. Manteo is indeed the cultural, commercial, and governmental center of Dare County. By no means a huge metropolis (population 6,000), it nonetheless is where all Dare County citizens eventually end up, either for entertainment or business or just plain visiting. The restored waterfront is a hub of retail activity, while across the harbor, the Roanoke Island Festival Park hosts dozens of cultural events and activities year-round. The nearby Lost Colony --the first outdoor drama in the US-- brings about 1,100 visitors each night through Manteo, filling restaurants and shops up until show time.

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