Bird Island is located at the south-western tip of North Carolina, in USA, adjacent to the coastal resort town of Sunset Beach. On this 1,300 acre, pristine, uninhabited state preserve, stands a solitary mailbox with the words “Kindred Spirit” painted on its side. Inside the mailbox is a journal that is filled with letters, personal stories, bits of wisdom, and prayers left behind by thousands of anonymous travellers who have taken the 1.5 mile walk to leave these letters and read what others have left at the Kindred Spirit mailbox. An empty wooden park bench sits just in front of the Kindred Spirit mailbox, with a perfect view of the ocean, offering visitors a seat to relax and read the stories and share their own.
The mailbox was installed by Frank Nesmith and his former girlfriend in this remote location more than 35 years ago. They left a notebook inside, hoping people would leave messages. But they never dreamed it would be so successful.
Most of the messages left are about love, family and hope: "Dear 'Kindred Spirit'. What a beautiful morning. I am so thankful for the gift of life," read one entry on the journal.
Others share their grief: "Dear princess. To my dear, sweet, beautiful wife. God took you to heaven ... I think of you every moment. I miss you more each day," reads another entry.
Some share their deepest secrets: "Dear 'Kindred Spirit'. I was going to visit my dad, who walked out on my family 50 years ago. I found out where he now lives, drove to his house, but I couldn't get out of the car".
Over the years Frank Nesmith has carefully collected and preserved each journal and letter. The journals are now part of a special collection at University of North Carolina Wilmington.
When development project of Bird Island started, a few years after Nesmith put up the mailbox, it was these hand written notes in Kindred Spirit Mailbox’s journal that saved the island. Everyone who came here wrote how nice it was to have a place like this on a deserted beach and they hoped it would never be developed. In 2002, the state of North Carolina raised $4.2 million from the public to purchase the island and created a coastal reserve. Today, Bird Island is the last undeveloped barrier island in Brunswick County, and is one of the few remaining natural barrier islands in the mid-Atlantic region.
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