Vanished without a trace: The Lost Colony

In July of 1587, a ship arrived at Roanoke Island -- a barrier island located off the coast of N.C. that is now known as the Outer Banks -- with the hopes of settling the first colony in the New World. The ship carried a total of 117 men, women and children from England. Shortly after their arrival, the settlers realized they would need more supplies including food and tools. They also were concerned about not having protection against Native American attacks, so a ship was sent across the Atlantic to bring back necessities and weapons.

However, England was in the middle of a war with Spain, which delayed the ship’s return for three years. As the supply ship returned to shore, they noticed the settlement had been looted and completely abandoned.

There were virtually no clues left behind to indicate what had happened to the entire population. Only two words remained: “Croatoan” carved into the fort’s fence and “Cro” on a nearby tree. Over the years, rumors have circled and theories have been discussed on how more than 100 colonists mysteriously disappeared.  Some believe that the colony was wiped out by a contagious disease, while others argue they had been brutally attacked and massacred by a Native American tribe.

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In recent years, several researchers and archeologists have tried to uncover clues that could reveal what really happened to the original colony of the New World. Using maps from that time period along with the latest technology, they still haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what caused the settlers to completely vanish. The mystery continues and we may never actually know the fate of those first colonists.