With miles of wide sandy beaches, great fishing and numerous options for outdoor recreation, Topsail Beach offers a relaxing coastal lifestyle. Located across the Intracoastal Waterway from Hampstead and the town of Topsail, which is home to Topsail High School and Topsail Middle School, several golf courses and many shops, businesses and restaurants, Topsail Beach has a lot to offer.
The town of Topsail Beach is usually quiet in the off-season, as it is located at the end of the road on the far southern end of the 26-mile-long Topsail Island. People value Topsail Beach real estate for the fact that high rise development is not allowed, conservation is encouraged, and the town is home to only about 450 year-round residents. Some of the local real estate offerings include single family homes, oceanfront properties and vacation rentals.
What do people love about Topsail Beach? One attractive feature is that it is home to a marina, a fishing pier, skating rink and restaurant. Another great feature of Topsail Beach is that the employment centers, beaches, amenities and cultural opportunities of neighboring cities such as Wilmington and Jacksonville are located nearby and easily accessible.
Topsail Beach History
Like many of the other coastal towns that line the North Carolina coast, Topsail Beach has a history all its own. Legend has it that the name originates from the 1700s, when pirates would hide in the waterway nearby the interior island, lying in wait to ambush passing merchant ships on the ocean side. Since the merchants were always wary of seeing the top sail of a pirate vessel across the dunes, the name Topsail Island was born, though this is in dispute, and the other side of the story is not quite as interesting.
Before the start of WWII, all of Topsail Island was only reachable by boat. Though many locals made their way over for picnics and beach outings, and rumor has it that some farmers drove their livestock across the water to graze on wild grasses, it was not really developed until the U.S. Navy took over the island, beginning a joint research project with Johns Hopkins University, named Operation Bumblebee.
To facilitate the operation, a storage facility for rockets and rocket parts was built on the sound side of the island, and launching pads were placed oceanfront. Concrete observation towers were constructed all over the island, to monitor these early beginnings of the space/guided missile program that made Topsail Beach the site of more than 200 rocket launches. This eventually led to the building of the Topsail Beach Missiles and More Museum.
Today, some of the concrete observation towers remain in use as businesses and private residences, and one of the launching pads is now a patio at a local business. Of course, when the U.S. Navy built roads, dredged the waterway and brought fresh water onto the island, development inevitably followed and the town was eventually incorporated, in 1963.
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