Just south of the Pamlico River is a quiet town called Aurora. The population is just under 600, and the homes and business have a true Southern charm. However, to fossil hunters around the world, the most interesting parts of the Aurora are buried underneath the city.
A large phosphate mine in the area gives both paleontologists and fossil enthusiasts a unique opportunity to collect and study fossils from prehistoric times. The Aurora Fossil Museum, located in town, includes a wide variety of marine fossils from the Pleistocene, Pliocene and Miocene eras, as well as Native American artifacts from the area.
Fossil fanatics come from around the world throughout the year to visit Aurora, the Aurora Fossil Museum and participate in the annual Fossil Festival at the end of May.
Just north of Aurora, a town of 520 residents, is the PotashCorp Aurora facilities, including open-pit mines and a manufacturing complex. The soil there is rich in phosphorous — and fossils.
The museum contains a wide variety of fossils unearthed in the mining process at Potash Corp Aurora, the largest employer in Beaufort County. Aurora is one of seven municipalities in the county.
Aurora was significantly devastated when Hurricane Irene trekked through eastern North Carolina in August 2011, with many residences, commercial buildings and churches destroyed or heavily damaged.
The southern terminal of the Pamlico River ferry route is north of the town, near the PotashCorp Aurora complex. The town sits astride N.C. Highway 33, an east-west route. Richard Coffey, a former basketball player with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and John Decatur Messick, the fifth president of East Carolina University are from Aurora.
Town Hall is located in a restored historic home.