In 1865, at the end of the Civil War, freed slaves were drawn to an encampment of Union troops along the Tar River in eastern North Carolina. When the troops left, the settlers stayed, calling the area Freedom Hill. In 1885, they officially chartered the town, renaming it Princeville in honor of its earliest settler, Turner Prince.
The Princeville Heritage Trail, unveiled in 2002, commemorates the historical significance of this oldest city in the United States to have been incorporated by African Americans. The trail runs atop a grassy levee that follows the southern bank of the Tar River, providing scenic views of the waterway.
Less than a half mile from the trail’s western end, the Princeville Museum provides a place to learn about the community’s unique history. Built in 1935, the structure was once a schoolhouse and rests on an even older school site dating back to the late 1800s.
Parking is available at Princeville Heritage Park (413 Mutual Boulevard) and the Princeville Museum Welcome Center (310 Mutual Boulevard).