S.E. Excursions

Fort Dobbs shows life on early frontier

CorrespondentNovember 10, 2012 

About eight times a year, guests at Fort Dobbs can experience a living history reenactment of the French and Indian War. Photo courtesy of Scott Douglas


  • Details What: Fort Dobbs Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Admission: Free. Info: 704-873-5882; fortdobbs.org.

Fort Dobbs Historic Site, near Statesville, is one of only a very few places in the nation preserving land associated with the French and Indian Wars. Constructed in 1756, Fort Dobbs was the only fortified outpost along colonial North Carolina’s frontier.


Fort Dobbs is a couple of miles north of downtown Statesville, about 150 miles from Raleigh, roughly a 2 1/2-hour drive one way..

To see and do

Capt. Hugh Waddell and royal Gov. Arthur Dobbs, for whom the fort was named, chose the site of the stronghold in 1755, even though relations between the settlers and Indians at that time were still peaceful.

In 1756, the General Assembly appropriated funds for its construction, and a log fort, measuring some 40 by 50 feet, and 24 feet in height, was erected and garrisoned. The fort helped protect settlers from Indian attack until the end of hostilities in 1761.

On Feb. 27, 1760, the fort withstood an attack by Cherokee warriors, with the brief battle resulting in injuries to three defenders and the death of one civilian; 12 attackers were killed or wounded.

By 1766, the stronghold had outlived its usefulness and had fallen into disrepair.

The original structure has been gone for more than 200 years, and only its foundation is preserved. Plans are underway for a full-scale replica of the fort to be built on the site over the next five years. Even though the site is mostly open space now, much has been done over the past few years to enhance the experience for visitors.

A small wooden building constructed decades ago serves as a temporary visitor center. Inside is an exhibit that examines the relationship between backcountry settlers and the Indians; the root causes of the French and Indian Wars and the larger conflict between England and France; and the construction, use and impact of Fort Dobbs.

The exhibit includes a small sampling of artifacts, including edged weapons of the period and relics found on the site. Also displayed is a 1/16th-scale model of the fort.

Fort Dobbs comes to life during special event weekends and living history programs.

The living history weekend (Dec. 8-9) offers historic interpreters firing weapons and demonstrating camp life in the 18th century.

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