Created By: Historical Society of Topsail Island
This building was built in 1946 as the center of the Top Secret Project, Operation Bumblebee, to develop a supersonic guided missile for the Navy. It was dubbed Operation Bumblebee because bumblebees are not aerodynamically designed to fly. The ramject engine, which is the basis for all our jet transportation, was developed here. The test engines were "assembled" here and carried to the launch site up the street.
Now go around to the back of the Assembly Building and view Banks Channel and learn about the pirates.
This inlet was a hiding place for pirates during the late 1600s and early 1700s. On maps dating back to 1774 this inlet was named New Topsail Inlet and Topsail Sound. The legends say that the merchant ships traveling in the ocean would look over the maritime forest for the tops of the sails of the pirate ships with the hope of outrunning the pirates. Another legend says that Blackbeard buried his gold on Topsail Island. Nothing has ever been found.
The island was not named Topsail Island until 1947. Before 1947, it was called The Banks or The Sand Spit.
Beyond the small islands you see in front of you is the Intracoastal Waterway which runs 3,000 miles from New England to Texas and was completed in 1949. Some of the islands were built from the sand dredged and deposited there during the dredging of the Intracoastel Waterway.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Top Secret Walking Tour of Topsail Beach