Albemarle Sound

Albemarle Sound (/ˈælbəˌmɑːrl/) is a large estuary on the coast of North Carolina in the United States located at the confluence of a group of rivers, including the Chowan and Roanoke. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Currituck Banks, a barrier peninsula upon which the town of Kitty Hawk is located, at the eastern edge of the sound, and part of the greater Outer Banks region. Roanoke Island is situated at the southeastern corner of the sound, where it connects to Pamlico Sound. Much of the water in the Albemarle Sound is brackish or fresh, as opposed to the saltwater of the ocean, as a result of river water pouring into the sound.

Some small portions of the Albemarle have been given their own "sound" names to distinguish these bodies of water from other parts of the large estuary. The Croatan Sound, for instance, lies between mainland Dare County and Roanoke Island. The eastern shore of the island to the Outer Banks is commonly referred to as the Roanoke Sound (which is also a historical name for the entire body of water now known as Albemarle Sound[1][2]). The long stretch of water from near the Virginia state line south to around the Currituck County southern boundary is known as the Currituck Sound.

The sound forms part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Its coast saw the first permanent settlements in what became North Carolina, the English Albemarle Settlements. Many inland Tidewater communities along the Albemarle today are part of the Inner Banks region of the state.

NS train crosses Albermarle Sound 1918
Norfolk Southern Railroad passenger train crosses the Albemarle Sound trestle in 1918. The trestle was demolished in the late 1980s.
Albemarle Sound with the northern Outer Banks. Orbital photo courtesy of NASA.


Before Europeans came to the Albemarle Sound, the Algonquian Indians lived in the region. They traveled the sound in dugout canoes, and trapped fish.

In 1586 the first European explorers sailed up the fifty-five-mile (89 km) length of the Albemarle Sound. Half a century later, the first European settlers came south from Virginia, establishing agricultural and trading colonies along the shores of the Sound. The Albemarle Sound soon became a very important thoroughfare, with small trading ships called coasters carrying cargo to and from other colonies, and larger merchant ships bringing spices, silks, and sugars from the West Indies in exchange for products such as tobacco (a major export of the southern colonies), herring, and lumber.

In 1663, Albemarle Sound was made part of the Province of Carolina by King Charles II of England and given to eight Lords Proprietors. One of these royal beneficiaries was George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, for whom the sound is named.[3]

Ferries were a common method of transportation through the swamps surrounding the Albemarle Sound throughout the history of the region. One ferry that linked the towns of Edenton and Mackeys, North Carolina, continued in service from 1734 to 1938, when a bridge was built across the Sound. Another longer bridge of more than 3 miles (4.8 km) in length was built in 1990.

Fishing was a major industry in the Albemarle Sound. In late spring, plantation farmers would fish for shad, striped bass, and herring. Nets used by these fishermen were sometimes enormous, with some more than a mile (1600 m) long, and were frequently staffed 24 hours a day. Herring was cut and salted for export to Europe, while shad was packed in ice and shipped up the Chowan River to be sold in northern colonies. Regional striped bass tournaments attracted sports fishermen to the area, and it was considered by many to be the greatest striped bass fishery in the world.

Pollution and development in recent years have depleted the fisheries of the Albemarle Sound by seventy percent.

See also


  1. ^ "Albemarle Sound". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  2. ^ Mcpherson, Elizabeth G.; Paschal, Herbert R. "Batts, Nathaniell". NCpedia. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Museum of the Albermarle". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-19.

External links

Coordinates: 36°03′55″N 76°03′52″W / 36.06520°N 76.06453°W

Alligator River (North Carolina)

Alligator River is a small river in eastern North Carolina, separating Dare County and Tyrrell County. It empties into Albemarle Sound. A 21-mile canal connects the Alligator River with Pungo River to its west. The Lindsey C. Warren Bridge of U.S. Route 64 crosses the river.

Alligator River is protected as part of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Habitat bordering the Refuge includes many diverse types including high and low pocosin, bogs, fresh and brackish water marshes, hardwood swamps, and Atlantic white cypress swamps. Plant species include pitcher plants and sun dews, low bush cranberries, redbay, Atlantic white cypress, pond pine, American sweetgum, red maple, and a wide variety of herbaceous and shrub species common to the East Coast.

The refuge is one of the premier strongholds for American black bear on the Eastern Seaboard.

It also has concentrations of ducks, geese, and swans. The wildlife diversity includes wading birds, shorebirds, American woodcock, raptors, black bears, alligators, white-tailed deer, raccoons, cottontail rabbits, bobwhite quail, northern river otters, red wolves, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and neotropical migrants.

Battle of Albemarle Sound

The Battle of Albemarle Sound was an inconclusive naval battle fought in May 1864 along the coast of North Carolina during the American Civil War. Three Confederate warships, including an ironclad, engaged eight Union gunboats. The action ended indecisively due to the sunset.

Blackwater River (Virginia)

The Blackwater River of southeastern Virginia flows from its source near the city of Petersburg, Virginia for about 105 miles (170 km) through the Inner Coastal Plain region of Virginia (part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain). The Blackwater joins the Nottoway River to form the Chowan River, which empties into Albemarle Sound. The Blackwater-Nottoway confluence forms the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina.

Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad

The Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad (reporting mark CA) is a short-line railroad that operates 68 miles (109 km) of track from Chesapeake, Virginia to Edenton, North Carolina.

The railroad was originally part of the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which continued south, crossing the Albemarle Sound and on to Mackeys Ferry and Plymouth. The current railroad began operations in 1990, was acquired by RailAmerica in 2000, and subsequently acquired by the Genesee & Wyoming.

C&A interchanges with both Norfolk Southern Railway, CSX Transportation, and the Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad.

The railroad's traffic comes mainly from stone and chemical products. The CA hauled around 3,300 carloads in 2008.The railroad was fined around $15,100 for a spill of diesel fuel in August 2010 after a derailment on 26 March 2010 spilled around 1,000 US gallons (3,800 l) of fuel into the Intracoastal Waterway.

Chowan River

The Chowan River () is a blackwater river formed with the merging of Virginia's Blackwater and Nottoway rivers near the stateline between Virginia and North Carolina. According to the USGS a variant name is Choan River.Flowing for approximately 50 miles (80 km) before ending in the Albemarle Sound on North Carolina's coast, the river drains about 4,800 square miles (12,000 km2) of land in North Carolina and Virginia. Flowing through mostly swamp land with occasional high ground, the Chowan River grows to nearly two miles wide (3 km) at its opening to the Albemarle Sound. The river offers excellent fishing for catfish and largemouth bass. While tidal, the variation in tide heights in the Chowan River are normally less than one foot (30 cm) between high and low tide. The average depth is 16 feet and the maximum depth is 40 feet around Holiday Island.

The Eden House bridge on US Route 17 marks the border between the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound.

Significant tributaries include Bonds Creek, the Meherrin River, Bennett's Creek (which connects the Chowan River with Merchant's Millpond State Park), and the Wiccacon River.

The river featured prominently in the Civil War in the region. As part of the Union plan to destroy the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, Union ships sailed up the Chowan river, bombarding small Confederate posts outside of Harrellsville, North Carolina (at Deep Creek, also known as Swain's Mill Creek) and outside of Cofield, North Carolina (at Petty's Shore, where an old bunker is still visible in the landscape). By the time the ships reached Winton, North Carolina, the local troops had been alerted to the oncoming ships. Hiding in the woods near the dock for an ambush, the Conderate battalion at Winton sent a slave girl down to the Union boats to tell them that the locals had fled in fear of a Union attack. The ambush was foiled, however, when a Union soldier saw the gleam of the sun on a musket barrel in the woods. The Union ships quickly pulled anchor, regrouped, and returned minutes later to burn Winton to the ground. That same Union fleet would go on to land at Murfreesboro, North Carolina (via the Meherrin River) and march west to the railroad at Weldon.

The Chowan River is one of the three oldest surviving English place-names in the U.S. Along with Roanoke Island and the Neuse River, it was named in 1584 by Captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe, sent to explore the region by Sir Walter Raleigh. Their "Chowanook", or Chowanoke, name was shortened to Chowan.

Croatan Sound

Croatan Sound is an inlet in Dare County, North Carolina. It connects Pamlico Sound with Albemarle Sound, and is bordered to the east by Roanoke Island; Roanoke Sound is on the other side of the island. Its name comes from the Croatan Indians who once inhabited the area. The Croatan Sound is crossed by two bridges, the older William B. Umstead Bridge, and the newer Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge, which carries U.S. Route 64.

Currituck Sound

Currituck Sound () is a protected inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, located in northeastern part of North Carolina and extreme southeastern Virginia. Thirty miles N-S and 3–8 miles wide, this shallow, island-filled sound is separated from the ocean by the Currituck Banks Peninsula (formerly Bodie Island), part of the Outer Banks. On the NE, it extends to Back Bay in Virginia Beach, Virginia. A fork on the northwest leads to the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, which is a part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway that connects the sound to Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay. Although several inlets connected it directly to the Atlantic at one time or another, they have all since closed and there is now no direct access to the Ocean from the Sound. This has caused the salinity levels to be significantly lower than they had been historically. Currently, the only access to the Ocean is through the Albemarle Sound, which joins the Currituck to the South. Currituck County's Mackay Island and Currituck National Wildlife Refuge as well as Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach border the sound and are winter habitats on the Atlantic Flyway. Many watersports activities occur in the sound, including parasailing, sea kayaking, and jet skiing. An area of barrier beaches, it is also noted for its duck and goose hunting.

Mackeys, North Carolina

Mackeys is an unincorporated community in Washington County, North Carolina, United States. Mackeys is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks regions and is located at the mouth of the Mackeys Creek on the south side of the Albemarle Sound.

Meherrin River

The Meherrin River is a 92-mile (148 km) long river in the U.S. states of Virginia and North Carolina. It begins in central Virginia, about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Emporia, and flows roughly east-southeast into North Carolina, where it joins the larger Chowan River.

A twenty-foot-high dam on the river creates a reservoir in Emporia. For most of its length, the Meherrin is not large enough for commercial traffic. It widens somewhat between Murfreesboro, North Carolina and the Chowan. Prior to the American Civil War, this section of the river was a significant trading route for Northeastern North Carolina.

The river was named after the Meherrin Indians, whose territory was along it.

Nottoway River

The Nottoway River is in southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. It is part of the Chowan River system, which flows into Albemarle Sound in North Carolina.

Pamlico Sound

Pamlico Sound ( PAM-lik-oh) in North Carolina in the US is the largest lagoon along the North American East Coast, extending 80 mi (130 km) long and 15 to 20 miles (24 to 48 km) wide. It is part of a large, interconnected network of lagoon estuaries that includes Albemarle Sound, Currituck Sound, Croatan Sound, Pamlico Sound, Bogue Sound, Core Sound, and Roanoke Sound. Together, these sounds, known as the Albemarle-Pamlico sound system, comprise the second largest estuary in the United States, covering over 3,000 sq. mi. of open water.(Chesapeake Bay is the largest.) The Pamlico Sound is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks, a row of low, sandy barrier islands that include Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is one of nineteen great waters recognized by the America's Great Waters Coalition.

Pasquotank River

The Pasquotank River (listen) is a coastal water-body in Northeastern North Carolina in the United States. Located between Camden and Pasquotank counties, the Pasquotank connects directly to the Albemarle Sound and is part of the Intracoastal Waterway via Elizabeth City.

Machelhe Island is a river island on the Pasquotank River.

Perquimans River

The Perquimans River is a coastal waterway in Northeastern North Carolina in the United States. Located entirely within Perquimans County, the river drains directly to the Albemarle Sound between Durant's Neck on the north and Harvey Neck on the south. It is a tidal estuary to just north of the towns of Hertford and Winfall. Because of the extremely flat topography of the region, the Perquimans flows quite slowly and has cypress swamps on either bank for much of its upper length. It has its headwaters in the swampy region of northern Perquimans and southern Gates counties. It flows past the communities of Nicanor, Whiteston, Belvidere, and the towns of Hertford and Winfall.

Roanoke River

The Roanoke River () is a river in southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina in the United States, 410 miles (660 km) long. A major river of the southeastern United States, it drains a largely rural area of the coastal plain from the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains southeast across the Piedmont to Albemarle Sound. An important river throughout the history of the United States, it was the site of early settlement in the Virginia Colony and the Carolina Colony. An 81-mile (130 km) section of its lower course in Virginia between the Leesville Lake and Kerr Lake is known as the Staunton River, pronounced , as is the Shenandoah Valley city of that name. It is impounded along much of its middle course to form a chain of reservoirs.

Roanoke Sound

The Roanoke Sound is a sound that separates Roanoke Island from Bodie Island of the Outer Banks. To the north of the Roanoke Sound lies the Albemarle Sound and to the south lies the Pamlico Sound. One bridge, which carries U.S. Highway 64, crosses the sound.

In a historical context, this was also the name first given to the present-day body of water known as the Albemarle Sound. That body of water was initially named the Sea of Rawnocke (Roanoke), or Roanoke Sea, by European explorers and later appeared on maps as the Roanoke Sound and then the Carolina River before it was renamed for George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle. North Carolina’s earliest European settlements were established in this area.

Scuppernong River (North Carolina)

The Scuppernong River is a blackwater river that flows through Tyrrell County and Washington County, North Carolina, into the Albemarle Sound. It is a tributary of the Pasquotank River Basin. The river shares its name with the Scuppernong grapes native to the area.Each October, Tyrrell County hosts an annual Scuppernong River Festival, a local tradition since 1991.In 2004, the North Carolina State Parks System established the Scuppernong River Section of Pettigrew State Park, along the banks of the river, with the aid of The Nature Conservancy.

The Albemarle Sound

The Albemarle Sound is the third album by the Brooklyn, New York, indie pop band The Ladybug Transistor. It was released on March 23, 1999.


WZGO (91.1 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a Christian Contemporary music format. Licensed to Aurora, North Carolina, United States, it serves the area. The station is owned by Pathway Christian Academy.

On August 1, 2006, GoMix! Radio added WZGO, 91.1 FM in Aurora. WZGO became the second full-time signal and increased the GoMix! Radio coverage area to include the coastal areas of North Carolina from the Albemarle Sound down to the Morehead City area.

Washington County, North Carolina

Washington County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 13,228. Its county seat is Plymouth. The county was formed in 1799 from the western third of Tyrrell County. It was named for George Washington.

There are three incorporated towns in Washington County. Plymouth is the county seat. Other towns are Roper and Creswell. Washington County is known for rich farmland, extensive forests and abundant public access waters. The Roanoke River and Albemarle Sound form the northern boundary. Lake Phelps is 16,000 acres and is part of Pettigrew State Park in Creswell. Somerset Place is a restored antebellum plantation and NC Historic Site on Lake Phelps.

The Pungo Unit of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in the southern part of the county is said to have the best public black bear viewing in North Carolina. This part of the State is known for having the world's largest black bears and highest black bear densities, according to the NC Black Bear Biologist, Colleen Olfenbuttel. The award-winning NC Black Bear Festival takes place in Plymouth on the first weekend in June.

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