It’s a mystery for the ages: What happened to the “Lost Colony” sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to live on Roanoke Island?
Raleigh sent the settlers in 1587 to inhabit Fort Raleigh, built by a previous group three years earlier. Under Governor John White, they baptized two friendly Croatan Indians and welcomed Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America. Governor White then returned to England for supplies. He was detained while the English Navy waged war against the Spanish.
When Governor White finally returned to Fort Raleigh in 1590, he found the 116 settlers, including his own family, gone. The only clues to their departure were the words “CRO” and “CROATAN” carved into a tree and a fencepost. To this day, no one knows what became of Raleigh’s Lost Colony.
At Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, you can relive the story of the Lost Colony through a lavish, costumed musical production that plays six nights a week during the summertime at the park’s Waterside Theatre. You can take a short nature walk or hike a trail from the Elizabethan Gardens to the western shore of the island.
Learn about the Roanoke and Croatan tribes, the Freedmen’s Colony of African Americans that settled here during the Civil War, and the experiments conducted on Roanoke Island in 1901 and 1902 by Reginald Fessenden, an early inventor of radio technology.