A Bern-ing Desire
New Bern Travel Blog› entry 44 of 61 › view all entries
It is almost Christmas and I have a free hotel night to use. Fortunately I subscribe to a bi-weekly blurb of state-wide activities from the North Carolina Board of Tourism and they provide good coverage of holiday happenings. The “Christmas by Candlelight” event in New Bern caught my eye and redeeming lodging here proved to be a piece of cake. New Bern here I come.
The gala was to be held in Tryon Palace, New Bern’s most prestigious and well-known attraction. Sadly, I was completely unaware. My family had stopped twice to dine in town on our way to other destinations and never dug deeper, which proved to be a mistake.
Turns out the town was settled by Swiss immigrants in 1710 and named after Bern, Switzerland.
Apparently anxious to converse in the native tongue again, a band of these folks sailed away, choosing the strategic point where two rivers converged into the Atlantic Ocean. The prosperous location led to New Bern becoming the capital of the North Carolina Colony, a title it would retain through the American Revolution.
Tryon Palace was an elaborate mansion built as the home for William Tryon around 1770. A Brit of minor royalty who distinguished himself in the military (particularly during conflicts in France during the Seven Years War), Tryon originally relocated to America as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina. When the existing Governor passed away, Tryon ascended to the role of top dog in the colony. England allotted 5,000 pounds to erect a home, but Tryon’s discussions with his architect quickly revealed that would only satisfy about half of his vision.
Once completed, the governor and his family would only reside here for thirteen months before being re-assigned as governor of New York. Tryon maintained this title through much of the American Revolution. I was astonished to learn that after the fight began, Tryon conspired in a plot to assassinate George Washington! The scheme obviously failed, though one participant was executed. Quite fascinating, I never knew.
Tryon would morph back into leading military expeditions, in charge of successful campaigns in New York and Connecticut. I find it disgusting that Tryon’s pivotal tactic was targeting civilians (i.
I’ve dwelled enough upon Tryon, but New Bern has more history to share. Pepsi Cola was born here! Pharmacist Caleb Bradham concocted the beverage at his drug store here in 1898. Of course they have reconstructed the pharmacy and it is another tourist draw, but peeking through the windows I did not detect much to investigate (and confess I prefer Coca Cola).
Bottom line is that New Bern is a delightful colonial town well worth wandering about. Of course I was here for the Christmas by Candlelight tour of Tryon Palace, so I will allow the below reviews do the rest of the sales pitch for visiting this lovely spot.