Waterways have been the primary highways for humans for thousands of years, long before the arrival of airplanes, cars, and trains.
Two of the largest and richest areas of Colonial America were Charleston, SC and the Tidewater region of Virginia, both blessed with natural deep water ports. North Carolina, with its string of barrier islands, was not so lucky.
The Neuse River was one of the few waterways of importance to early European settlers in North Carolina. Despite the emergence of the railroad in the mid-19th century, the Neuse continued as an effective highway for people and goods.
The US Army Corps of Engineers created the following map in 1888 using survey data gathered the previous year. For over 200 years the Corps has managed the waterways of the United States.
The map is broken up into sections from Waynesborough down to New Bern, although the title lists Smithfield.
Every mile is a numbered point, along with bridges, ferries, and river landings. I broke up each section and rearranged them to show a continuous line.
Running from Waynesborough to Whitehall, just east of Seven Springs, there are nine river landings- Waynesborough, Arrington Bridge, Spring Bank, Sleepy Creek, Broadhurst Bridge, Ivy’s, Seven Springs, Whitehall, an an unnamed landing just to the west of Spring Bank.
The Wilmington & Weldon RR bridge listed is the same location as the Battle of Goldsborough Bridge, fought December 17, 1862. Today this would be very near the modern Highway 117 bridge over the Neuse, just south of Goldsboro.
Above is a rough overlay of the Wayne County section of the blueprint superimposed over a modern map of Wayne County.
Previous Wayne County map posts: