Divided from New Hanover county in 1875, the county was named for Confederate General William D. Pender. Its seat is the historic town of Burgaw located at the crossroads of I-40, US 117 and NC 53 in the center of the county. Burgaw blends old and new architecture while keeping a walk-everywhere small town appeal and is home to Pender Memorial Hospital, a north branch of Cape Fear Community College, and ample retail merchants and dining establishments.
Bank of Pender. c1910
In the western end of the county is Moore's Creek National Battlefield, site of a 1776 Revolutionary victory. Just past Currie off NC 210, the park invites visitors year-round to wander exhibits, battlefield trails and picnic areas.
Just 11 miles west of Burgaw, at Penderlea Homestead Museum, visitors can tour a fully-restored Depression-era farm left over from a 10,000 acre New Deal project that originally included 300 family-run farms.
Head back east toward the salt air to find more history, conservation and relaxation on Pender's Topsail Island, so-named because 18th century pirates would sail into the Intracoastal waterway, leaving only the tops of their sails exposed as they waited to ambush merchant ships.
Moores Creek National Military Park
While legend persists that William "Blackbeard" Teach may have found harbor with his pirate fleet at Topsail Inlet, Missiles and More Museum on Topsail Beach, preserves some of the island's documented history as a secret U.S. missile testing site during World War II.