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Neuse River

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Title: Neuse River  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, New Bern, North Carolina, Battle of New Bern, CSS Neuse, Neusiok Trail
Collection: Geography of Raleigh, North Carolina, Landforms of Carteret County, North Carolina, Landforms of Craven County, North Carolina, Landforms of Durham County, North Carolina, Landforms of Granville County, North Carolina, Landforms of Johnston County, North Carolina, Landforms of Lenoir County, North Carolina, Landforms of Pamlico County, North Carolina, Landforms of Pitt County, North Carolina, Landforms of Wake County, North Carolina, Landforms of Wayne County, North Carolina, Rivers of North Carolina, Tributaries of the Pamlico Sound
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Neuse River

Along much of its length, the Neuse River is characterized by loose, sandy banks; muddy water year-round, and a dense tree canopy overhead.

The Neuse River is a river rising in the Piedmont of North Carolina and emptying into Pamlico Sound below New Bern. Its total length is approximately 275 miles (443 km),[1] making it the longest river entirely contained in North Carolina. The Trent River joins the Neuse at New Bern. Its drainage basin, measuring 5,630 square miles (14,600 km2) in area, also lies entirely inside North Carolina. It is formed by the confluence of the Flat and Eno rivers prior to entering the manmade, artificial Falls Lake reservoir in northern Wake County. Its fall line shoals, known as the Falls of the Neuse, lie submerged under the waters of Falls Lake.


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
  • Water Quality 3
  • Tributaries 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Map showing the Neuse and Tar River watersheds.

Typical of rivers in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, the Neuse enters a basin of intermittent limestone and sandstone bluffs. The Neuse is prone to extremes in its flow carriage, often escaping its banks during wet periods, then reducing to a trickle that can be forded on foot during prolonged drought conditions.

The Neuse flows through parts of seven counties. Major cities and towns in proximity to the Neuse are Durham, Neuse Township; Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina; Smithfield; Goldsboro; Kinston; and New Bern.


For thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, different civilizations of indigenous peoples lived along the river. Many artifacts found along its banks have been traced to ancient prehistoric Native American settlements. Archaeological studies have shown waves of habitation.

The river has one of the three oldest surviving English-applied placenames in the U.S. [2] Colonists named the Neuse River after its name by the American Indian tribe known as Neusiok, with whom the early Raleigh expeditions made contact. They also identified the region as the "Neusick". Two English captains, Arthur Barlowe and Phillip Armadas, were commissioned by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584 to explore the New World. They landed on North Carolina’s coast July 2, 1584 to begin their research. In their 1585 report to Raleigh, they wrote favorably of the Indian population in "…the country Neusiok, situated upon a goodly river called Neuse…", as it was called by the local population.

Mouth of the "Nuss" in "A New Description of Carolina", engraved by Francis Lamb (London, Tho. Basset and Richard Chiswell, 1676)

In 1865 during the American Civil War, the Confederates burned one of the last ironclad warships which they had built, the Ram Neuse, to prevent its capture by Union troops. The level of the river had fallen so that it prevented the ship from passing downriver. Nearly a century later, during another period of historically low water, the remains of the ship were discovered. It was raised in 1963. Later the ship was installed beside the river at the Governor Caswell Memorial in Kinston.

Water Quality

A bridge over the Neuse River at New Bern, where the Trent River (bottom) joins it

The Neuse has been plagued in recent years with environmental and public health problems related to municipal and agricultural waste water discharge, storm runoff, and other sources of pollution.[3] Pollution was particularly bad in the aftermath of hurricanes Fran and Floyd in the late 1990s.

The dinoflagellate fish kills as well as adverse health effects in humans.



  1. ^ "Neuse River", The Columbia Gazetteer of North America
  2. ^  
  3. ^ "Neuse Issues and Facts", About the Neuse, Neuse River Foundation
  4. ^ Pfiesteria, About the Neuse, Neuse River Foundation
  5. ^ Pfiesteria, USDA
  6. ^ Facts about Pfiesteria, NCDENR

External links

  • Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation
  • NCDENR: Neuse River Basin
  • NCSU: Neuse River Basin
  • USGS: Neuse River Current Conditions
  • Upper Neuse River Basin Association
  • Neuse River Compliance Association and Lower Neuse Basin Association
  • The Neuse, River of Peace
  • Events and Happening Along the Neuse River

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