Buffalo City Exhibit – Logs & Moonshine

North Carolina is filled with mystery. Dare County was once home to Buffalo City, a booming logging and moonshine town that lasted from the late-19th to early 20th centuries. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the city vanished. The businesses shutdown. The logging ceased. Residents disappeared.

Buffalo City is a relic of North Carolina – the Atlantis of the United States’ east coast, some might say. But what seems to be an unexplained event may not be the mystery we thought it was. The Buffalo City Exhibit, an exhibit detailing information uncovered about the town’s sudden disappearance, may hold many of these answers for curious travelers.

Below is a guide to the exhibit, one of the area’s more popular historical attractions.

outer banks nc buffalo city

The Buffalo City Exhibit

The Buffalo City Exhibit is a museum exhibit dedicated to one of the area’s most intriguing historical sites. The space explores the disappearance of the loggers and moonshiners of century-old Buffalo City and Roanoke Island, which lies between the mainland and the Outer Banks.

Buffalo City was a major trading post for moonshine and lumber, and at one point had a population of about 3,000. In part because of the decline in moonshining networks, the town’s boom quickly turned to bust, and it vanished.

This exhibit attempts to uncover what makes Buffalo City one of the most fascinating historical sites in the Outer Banks today. The small museum has a video room with interviews of a few people who lived in Buffalo City at some point in their lives. These interviews shed light on a history thought to be buried forever.

Guests can find original moonshine bottles from the city. Other items at the exhibit include “pluck,” a local currency used in Buffalo City during its 80 years of existence.

The Buffalo City barbeque sauce takes guests’ taste buds back to a different era. Among the other 20th-century artifacts is a candlestick telephone from the Andy Griffith Show. Griffith himself was a permanent resident and Dare County legend prior to his passing several years ago. Griffith starred in the world-famous outdoor drama “The Lost Colony” from 1947 through 1953, performed at Roanoke Island’s Waterside Theater. He liked Manteo so much during this time that he decided to make it home.

Inside the Bluegrass Island Trading Company

The Buffalo City Exhibit is actually located inside the Bluegrass Island Trading Company, near many Outer Banks oceanfront vacation rentals and other attractions. It is a shop that sells everything to do with bluegrass music and culture.

Dive into 20th century America at this fun shop, where you can browse crates of records, and check out moonshine merchandise and Coca-Cola memorabilia. Guests can find music-related souvenirs, and live music is often played on the front porch.

But visitors now have another reason to stop by this unique shop. The Buffalo City Exhibit is one of the main attractions at Bluegrass Island Trading Company. You can access the exhibit by asking for details at the front counter, or taking a right by the front door.

Buffalo City Today

Today, some building debris, old rail beds, and a single road sign are all that are left of the town. Only the Buffalo City Exhibit remains to tell the story of the ghost town of coastal North Carolina.

The land where Buffalo City once stood is now part of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, and you can easily visit the town’s remains by car from several nearby Outer Banks vacation rentals.

Exhibit Location and Hours

The Buffalo City Exhibit and the Bluegrass Island Trading Company can be found at 107 Budleigh Street, Manteo, NC. The two-room exhibit is free and doesn’t take very long to visit.

More information about Buffalo City and other historic facts of the area can be found nearby at The Outer Banks History Center, at 1 Festival Park, Manteo NC.

The Buffalo City Exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Street parking is available. Contact the front desk at (252) 423-3039 for more information about the exhibit and the shop, where you can also purchase music festival tickets, souvenirs, and other items.

Our Outer Banks vacation rentals are full of amenities and perfectly located to allow you to explore the towns – current and past – of coastal North Carolina.

Staying in a vacation rental allows you to take the time to appreciate the many nearby attractions and natural beauty that bring hundreds of thousands of people each year to the Outer Banks.

Contact our team at (252) 573-2811 to learn about the full range of the rentals that are currently available, with modern amenities, amazing views, and every comfort you need no matter how long you plan on staying.


Cola Vaughan Realty
PO Box 1375 • Nags Head, NC 27959
Phone: 252.573.2811
Email Inquiries To: vacations@obxcola.com