The Neuse at sunset, Camp Seafarer, Pamlico, North Carolina
The nearly 2 million year old Neuse River is a majestic, flowing river that has her beginnings above Durham, NC where the Eno and Flat rivers converge. The Neuse, whose indian name means peace, is a vital part of a large and important estuary, the Albermarle-Pamlico Sounds. This estuary is reported to be our country's most important fish nursery.
The Neuse's current is fast moving for 150 miles from its source until she reaches western Craven County. There she becomes a slow-moving, brackish estuary that continues for another 40 miles before reaching the Pamlico Sound.
Where is the Neuse?
The Neuse is one of only three rivers in North Carolina whose boundaries are located entirely within the state. It begins northwest of Durham, NC, in a 10-acre farm pond which is the headwater of the Eno. From there it feeds into Falls Lake, located on the north side of Raleigh, NC. Consequently, the Neuse starts in the heart of one of the fastest growing areas in the United States. From the Raleigh-Durham area, where it is a freshwater river, it flows generally south of east toward the Pamlico Sound, passing through many cities, farms, and swamps. It becomes a shallow, slow-moving, brackish estuary just upstream from the city of New Bern, in western Craven County. It is wider here at its upper estuary and is affected by wind-driven currents, as well as by salt water "wedges" that move upstream from the Pamlico Sound. The lower Neuse estuary begins in the area of Flanners Beach and Minnesott Beach and continues until it empties into the Pamlico Sound. There, the mouth of the Neuse is reported to have the widest river mouth in the continental US. The Neuse River is one of three large rivers that flow into the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.
The Neuse River Basin
The Neuse's estuarine waters provide approximately 2,750 acres of prime nursery habitat, and 1,250 acres of secondary nursery habitats. The Neuse is an important habitat for such fish as shad, herring, catfish, bass, and flounder. The Neuse is also home to vital populations of blue crab and oysters. Of the 3.5 millioin acres that comprise the Neuse Basin, 48,000 acres are state parks, 110,000 acres are game lands held by the Wildlife Resources Commission, and 58,000 acres are National Forest. The Neuse River drains land in 19 counties covering 6,192 square miles. More than 1,500,000 people (1/6 North Carolina's population) live in the basin. Many more come to visit each year.
How Old is the Neuse?
At an estimated 2 million years, the Neuse is one of the oldest rivers in the US. Archeological evidence indicates the first humans settled around the Neuse as early as 14,000 years ago. Early native American settlers included the Tuscaroras, Coree, Secotan, and Neusiok Indians. A struggle between early European settlers and the Tuscaroras drastically reduced the European population after the decisive "Tuscaroran War" in 1714. As new settlers populated North Carolina during the next 250 years, farming and forestry took hold. Today, over 1.5 million people live in the watershed from the sprawling suburbs of the Raleigh-Durham Triangle area to the golf and sailing communities below New Bern.
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