Beaufort may be best known as a cool and coastal small town, but a trip to this barely inland community can also easily entail a day at the beach, which means that beachcombers are just a shell’s throw away from a full morning or afternoon of finding an assortment of gems along the seashore. Close to hopping beach towns like Atlantic Beach, as well as quieter shorelines like the Shackleford Banks where the seashells wash up in waves, Beaufort is a fine starting point for a wide array of shelling adventures that can result in unforgettable, natural souvenirs that vacationers will treasure for years to come.
Fourteen miles west of Wilmington, North Carolina lies the small railroad station of Maco.
One rainy night in the spring of 1867, the conductor, Joe Baldwin, of a train was tidying up the rear coach as it approached the homestretch into Wilmington. Holding his lantern in front of his body, he prepared to step forward into the next car when he realized there was no car ahead! Somehow his coach had come uncoupled from the rest of the train and was quickly losing speed.
Knowing another train was following close behind, he raced back through the car, pulled open the heavy door and began to swing his lantern back and forth, back and forth, as the huge, fiery eye of the approaching train grew larger and larger. The heavy fog and dark night thwarted his signaling attempts, and with a terrific impact, the two trains collided. In the collision, the conductor's head was severed from his body.
Over the years, especially on dark, rainy nights, reports of a strange light, swinging from side to side has been seen along the tracks as the Joe Baldwin still haunts the tracks, searching for his head.