Historic Top Secret Walking Tour of Topsail Beach

Do you know jet engine propulsion was tested on Topsail Island in 1946-48?

Historic Top Secret Walking Tour of Topsail Beach

Topsail Beach, North Carolina 28445, United States

Created By: Historical Society of Topsail Island

Tour Information

This easy, free, one-mile walking tour will take you on a fun, historical adventure through the downtown area of the Town of Topsail Beach. This hike will accommodate strollers and folks with limited mobility.

This tour is presented by the Historical Society of Topsail Island - a non profit organization dedicated to the collection, preservation and promotion of the history of the Greater Topsail Island area.

Preserving the Past, Enjoying the Present, Building the Future.

Our website is topsailhistoricalsociety.org. Please consider making a donation to help us continue our work of preservation and education.

Spread out the map so you can see the numbers and follow along.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

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.... Read more
At this corner was a group of buildings of which only the smallest building remains.  The "Bumblebee"  barracks and mess hall and repair shop were originally connected as the Breez-way Inn and Cafe. The picture is from 1952.   Looking a... Read more
From the Breezeway, walk toward the ocean to the Town Center Park. This was once the site of the small colorful cement block Florida Apartments where visitors and fisherman spent many years on vacation. Rooms were named after Florida towns... Read more
Across the street you will find the building that the first developer of Topsail Beach, J. G. Anderson, built. He purchased the lower end of Topsail Island which consisted of about 1.5 miles of property. He purchased the property for about ... Read more
This building was built in 1959 and was Warren's Soda Shop, the first soda fountain on the Island. Soda "jerks", named because they jerked the handle which dispensed the soda water, made a variety of ice cream drinks.  Patent drugs were al... Read more
Continue walking on Davis Avenue toward the Ocean.  You will see the Jolly Roger Hotel.  Behind the building furthest to the south is the Operation Bumblebee launch pad.  It is now used as a patio for that building.   Please do not wal... Read more
When each missile was launched, the nine towers built up the beach monitored infomation about the missile:  speed, direction, height, length of trip, etc.  All that information was fed back into the Control Tower.  Triangulation of the p... Read more
This putt-putt and arcade was built in the mid 1950s and remains a popular place for residents and visitors.  It has not changed much in the past 60 years.
This was Missile Tower #1 and has been made into a private residence using the tower as the base of the building.  Can you see which part of the building was the original tower? Please be respectful as this is a private residence. Going so... Read more
This is now the site of the Topsail Beach Town Hall. At this site was once a gasoline station. Across Anderson Blvd is the site of the original Warren's Soda Shop which was destroyed during Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
Sonny and Doris Jenkins built the post office and skating rink in 1963. Doris is still the Post Master.  The skating rink is a popular place for youth and adults.  Nothing has changed much since 1963.  
This building was built in 1949-50 and housed the first general store.  It was built by William Bland and later sold to the Godwin family. The Godwins managed the store until the death of Mary Godwin in 2020.  
You have now concluded your walking tour presented by the Historical Society of Topsail Island.  We hope you enjoyed learning about our small town which began with missile testing of Operation Bumblebee in 1946.  Thank you for participati... Read more


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