Culture & History

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Cultural Center
The strength and pride of our leaders and citizens has helped the City progress in a productive and positive way. Close to 82,000 people make the City their home. The once quiet farming community has grown into the business, retail, medical, banking, and cultural center for Onslow County.

Although Jacksonville was authorized as a town in 1842, the City’s root history can be found as early as 1713 when the headwaters of the New River became a center of production for naval stores, particularly turpentine. The current downtown waterfront park is built on the site of Wantland’s Ferry, with bridges being constructed on either side of the original ferry site. Onslow County was formed in 1731 and the County Court sat at several different locations until it located at the County seat at Wantland’s Ferry, along the New River in what is today the downtown area of Jacksonville.

The downtown waterfront park is built on the site of Wantland's Ferry, with bridges on either side of the original ferry site. Still standing at the site is also the historic Pelletier House, maintained by the Onslow Historical Society and open to the public on special occasions. The grounds and park are open to the public year round. See more Places of Interest in Jacksonville

Camp Lejeune
It was not until 1849, that the town of Jacksonville was laid out. Agriculture and products could be shipped along the New River and were the mainstays of the economy during this time. In December of 1940, a decision was made to locate Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville and at that time Jacksonville was described as quiet town where the most profitable business was operating a restaurant that fed the 10-member Kiwanis Club.

The City of Jacksonville’s growth was steady until 1990, when the City annexed portions of Camp Lejeune. The 2000 census reported the population of Jacksonville at 66,715 with a growth to 82,000 by 2010. About half the population lives aboard Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station.