Topsail is steeped in maritime and military history. Visitors can retrace Blackbeard the Pirates travels in the local waters during the 1700s. Today, many visitors bring metal detectors, snorkel and scuba gear to explore the inlets and beaches in search of 18th century pirate booty. For adults and youngsters, there are scuba and snorkel training classes and trips.
Following World War II, Topsail Island was used by the US Government for a secret missile test site. This project, Operation Bumblebee, was among one of the early developments of the nations missile program. The Ram jet engine, as significant to jet travel as the first-flight is to propeller driven travel, was developed on Topsail Island. The Topsail Island Missiles and More Museum is housed in the rocket assembly building, now listed as a historical landmark.
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