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N A T U R A L F E A T U R E S A N D N A T I V E P E O P L E S HE VARIED featuresof the land in North Carolina havehad a pronounced effect on its development. The state is usually described as being composed of three regions: the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont Plateau, and the Mountains. Each of these has a distinct history, and only in recent years have social and economic factors created a unifying force sufficient to overcome the differences and divisions long attributed to geographic influences. One of the South Adantic states, North Carolina isbounded on the north by Virginia, on the west byTennessee,on the south byGeorgia and South Carolina, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. It contains 52,712 square miles of which 49,067 are land and 3,645 are water, and ranks twenty-eighth in size among the states. From east to west North Carolina isslightly more than 500miles,whileat its widest point it is188 milesfrom north to south. In elevation the range is from sea level on the Outer Banks at the Atlantic Ocean to 6,684 feet at Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the MississippiRiver. It lies between latitudes 33°27'37"N and 36°34'25''N, and longitudes 75°27'W and 84°2o'W. The Coastal Plain The broad, flat region of eastern North Carolina extends inland from the ocean for 100 to 150 milesand covers nearly21,000 square miles. It is part of the vast coastal plain extending from New York southward down the Atlantic coast and around the Gulf of Mexico. The eastern limit of this region in North Carolina is the chain of long, narrow, sandyislandscalled the Outer Banks, extending from the Virginia state line to Bogue Inlet at the mouth of White Oak River on the Carteret-Onslow county line. The Outer Banks are separated from the mainland byseveralwide but shallow sounds. At Cape Hatteras, a little south of the midpoint ofthe Outer Banks,the land juts farther east into the Atlanticthan at anyother point on the North American continent south of Delaware Bay. The warm currents of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic give Cape Hatteras and other T / I North Carolina, through Four Centuries This early twentieth-century view of the North Carolina coast made by Bayard Wootten probably differs little from the isolated scene that greeted the earliest explorers of the region. (North Carolina Collection, Universityof North Carolina at Chapel Hill) portions of these Outer Banks a milder winter climate than they otherwise would have. The Outer Banks are more than 175 miles long, and until the twentieth century , when bridges and paved highwayswere built, they were accessible from the mainland only by boat. Inlets through which waterfrom some of the state's rivers enters the ocean are frequently changed bystorms. From north to south the most important inlets are Oregon and Hatteras, both opened by a hurricane on 7 September 1846, and Ocracoke which has been known since the days of the earliest explorers, although its exact location has shifted slighdy with passingstorms. Of the sounds, Pamlico is the largest of the bodies of water between the Outer Banks and the mainland. It is approximately 80 miles long and ranges in width from 15 to 30 miles. It isthe largestsound on the easterncoast of the United States, while Albemarle Sound is approximately52miles long and 5to 14 miles wide. Other sounds in this section are Bogue, Core, Croatan, Currituck, and Roanoke. The mainland of eastern North Carolina is level, marked by numerous swamps and lakes, and drained by many rivers and small streams. The soil is generally fertile black loam, moderately easy to farm and relatively productive. 2 Natural Features and Native Peoples The swampsand cypresstrees on the shore of Albemarle Sound were typicalof much of eastern North Carolina and suggest the difficulty of passage from one part of the colony to another. (North Carolina Collection, Universityof North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Much of this region is less than 20 feet above sea level, but along its western limits it may rise to 500feet. The strip of eastern counties where the altitude seldom exceeds 30feet above sea level is sometimes referredto as the Tidewater Region. Along the South Carolina border an area of the Coastal Plain is somewhat higher than the adjacent section. It is called the Sandhills and covers most of Richmond, Moore, and Hoke as...


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