300 Years of History

Craven County and its capital of New Bern were founded in the early 1700s by Swiss immigrants, who named their settlement after Bern, the capital of Switzerland. New Bern was the original capital of North Carolina, and in 1774 it became the location of the first Provincial Congress in the colonies, a move that was in direct defiance to British orders.
That inaugural Provincial Congress met at Tryon Palace, a government mansion built in the 1760s. A replica of the original building, which burned down, is now home to the North Carolina History Center. The entire facility has seven buildings, three galleries and 14 acres of gardens, with plantings designed to depict three centuries of landscaping techniques.

Craven County played an important role in the Civil War as well. New Bern was one of the largest cities in North Carolina at the time, with a railroad line that was a key supply route for Confederate forces. In March of 1862, Union forces attacked New Bern and eventually gained control of the city, and it remained a Union enclave and a safe haven for escaped slaves for the remainder of the war.

New Bern

The history of New Bern is 300 years long. Founded in 1710 by a Swiss nobleman, the town was named after Bern, the capital of Switzerland and is the second oldest town in North Carolina. Upon the completion of Tryon Palace in 1770, New Bern served as the first capital of North Carolina. It survived both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, was the birthplace of Pepsi, and today, it continues to be a cultural hub for the coast and all of North Carolina.

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