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Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island

Ray McAllister

John F. Blair, Publisher
$13.95 paperback
$19.95 hardcover
5 x 8    
243 pages
black-and-white photographs throughout
Published in 2007

Soon after crossing the drawbridge from the mainland, you’ll reach a fork in the road and face your first decision at Wrightsville Beach. Bearing left will take you to the famous Johnnie Mercer’s Fishing Pier and near the site where a giant sperm whale named Trouble once washed ashore and refused to leave. Bearing right will take you to the classic downtown and points south, including the Coast Guard station and the site of the late, great Lumina Pavilion.

Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Either way, you’ll find a vibrant mixture of old and new.

Either way, amid landscape-altering attacks by both nature and developers, you’ll find the constancy of waves against the sand.

Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island is Ray McAllister’s homage to a special place, a book that captures not only Wrightsville’s history but also its heart. Along the way, he shares stories of fires and hurricanes and beach trolleys and Big Bands.

Unlike most of the North Carolina coast, Wrightsville has a sizable population base, thanks to nearby Wilmington. Development didn’t begin early here, but once it started, it came hard and fast. By the early 20th century, Wrightsville was beckoning family vacationers to its simple beach cottages and day-trippers to its dance floors, cinemas, and sundry amusements.

Through all the changes, Wrightsville has never forgotten the hospitality that made it such a destination in the first place. Just ask the airplane full of Pennsylvanians who fled here to escape one of America’s first man-made disasters. Or the thousands who continue to come for happier reasons today.