Visitors taking a stroll through the downtown will want to keep an eye out for a few colorful additions that make the heart of Morehead City brighter. These unique sculptures are part of the Morehead City Fish Walk, which is a public art trail that leads explorers through the coastal community, and which shines a spotlight on the colorful artworks that define the Crystal Coast.
History of the Fish Walk
The Fish Walk pays homage to Morehead City’s long connection with the water, and particularly, with commercial and maritime fishing.
Originally envisioned as a major port town in the 1850s, the town of Morehead City never reached the commercial status of other coastal destinations like Charleston, Savannah or Wilmington, NC, but it did have a thriving fishing industry that lingered for centuries.
Local residents on the outlying barrier island beaches of the Shackleford Banks would eventually move to the town after a series of hurricanes, bringing their boats and fishing lines with them, and in the latter 20th century, recreational fishing for visitors would make a huge splash as more and more vacationers flocked to the Crystal Coast. Morehead City provides an ideal launching point for both inshore and offshore adventures, and the area would raise to national fame as one of the primary home bases for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, an annual offshore fishing tournament that attracts hundreds of anglers from all over the world on the hunt for big catches and even bigger cash prizes.
It is these ties to the water that the Fish Walk honors, through a series of 12 sculptures that starts at the waterfront, where arguably Morehead City’s love of fishing begins.
About the Fish Walk
The Fish Walk is comprised of a dozen bas relief sculptures which have a decidedly fish theme and subject matter, and which were created by Willie Baucom and Keith Lambert – two artists who specialize in sculpture and who have a hometown gallery in neighboring Beaufort.
Both artists are well known in the region and around the world for their unique works in marble, stoneware, pottery, and paint, and they have been featured in a number of private and public collections both close to home and internationally. Keith is the only artist in the states to win the International Painting Competition in Beaufort-en-Valle, France, and the artists have also been commissioned to create some stunning sculptures and murals in the town of Boone, around the campus of Appalachian State University.
While the sculptures typically represent the local catches, visitors will also see other representations of marine and sea life throughout the collection, in a wide variety of cool and coastal hues. The different facets of the fish and other elements are just barely indented on the slabs of sculpture, and are worth a lingering look for their little details – like smaller fish cruising past a big blue marlin.
The Fish Walk essentially runs along the city’s boardwalk, and begins at South 4th Arndell Street.
From this starting point, visitors can follow the “Fish Walk” all the way to the corner of South 7th and Shepard Street, where the last of the 12 sculptures can be admired.
Tips and Tricks for Visiting the Fish Walk
- Visitors who want to explore the arts scene of Morehead City in its entirety should make the Arts Council of Carteret County a first stop. Located on Evans Street, this small and central building provides plenty of information on local galleries, shows, and even concerts around the area.
- Want a more in-depth tour? Then make a date to explore the Promise Land Trail too. The Promise Land Heritage Trail is a historically-themed walk that veers through the original “Promise Land” neighborhood in the heart of the downtown area.
- Be sure and bring a camera. While the unique and beautifully detailed sculptures of the Fish Walk are reason enough to linger and snap some photos, the waterfront setting is equally stunning and is worth a few pictures as well – especially around sunset.
- There are also several parks while en route along the Fish Walk – namely the small but scenic Jaycee Park located in the center of the action along the waterfront. Feel free to pause at one of the many benches or swings for an easy break, or to check out the other historical plaques, markers and statues that are dotted throughout the town.
- There are plenty of options for creating your own masterpiece too, via a wealth of classes and special events that are hosted by various organizations and galleries throughout the downtown area. Stop by the local art shops or the Arts Council of Carteret County for more information.
The Fish Walk is a unique attraction within Morehead City that celebrates both the area’s local heritage and coastal culture, as well as its budding and vibrant arts scene. A cool detour along any waterfront or downtown exploration, the Fish Walk is worth a look for any visitor who has a love of the water.