Scenic USA - North Carolina

Somerset Place State Historic Site

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Somerset Place State Historic Site - Pettigrew State Park, North Carolina

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   Not far from Albemarle Sound and North Carolina's famed Outer Banks, Somerset Place - Pettigrew State Park, NC Somerset Place is tucked away just far enough from Interstate 64 to seem years removed from modern day life. Adjacent to Pettigrew State Park and Lake Phelps (inset), visitors may easily imagine what life was like on an antebellum plantation.
   Here on the fertile region of the coast, life at Somerset Place spanned an 80 year period, brought to an abrupt end by the Civil War. Covering as many as 100,000 acres, Somerset Place was one of North Carolina's largest plantations. Left without hundreds of their unpaid laborers, the Collins family could no longer maintain the huge plantation.
   Operated as a business investment, the plantation primarily grew rice, corn, oats and wheat. Home to more than 800 slaves, African men, women and children were brought directly from West Africa to the plantation. Knowledgeable of rice cultivation, slaves dug a system of irrigation channels and canals, and cultivated the fields. Slave labor was also used to harvest timber, turning out thousands of feet of board lumber, staves, and shingles. Lake Phelps - Pettigrew State Park, NC Dozens of buildings were raised on the plantation grounds, including their own homes as well as a sawmill, gristmills, barns and stables.
   Better than a history book, Somerset Place tours include the main house (now under restoration), slave quarters, kitchen, dairy, laundry, smoke house, salting house and rations buildings. Open every day during the year (except on major holidays) hours vary slightly per season. Hands-on educational programs touch on daily plantation life, highlight century old farming techniques and illustrate how life changed on the plantation over the years.

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