Lake Mattamuskeet's History
Recreation at Lake Mattamuskeet
Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
The Mattamuskeet Foundation, Inc.
Links to other sites of interest
Lake Mattamuskeet Home Page
Early Efforts to Drain 
Lake Mattamuskeet

nterest in draining Lake Mattamuskeet for farming purposes dates back to the 1700ís. From 1664 to 1775, Colonial Governors appointed by the King of England ruled the Carolinas. Josiah Martin served as the last Colonial Governor of North Carolina from 1771 to 1775.  

In 1773, the Provincial Congress passed a bill to cut a large canal from Lake Mattamuskeet to the Pamlico Sound to drain the lake. At that time, the lake was from six to nine feet deep and covered 120,000 acres. Governor Martin vetoed the bill.  

After the American Revolution, in 1789, Governor Samuel Johnson appointed a drainage board for the purpose of draining the wet lands of Hyde County (including Lake Mattamuskeet) to make them suitable for farming. Disputes over right-of-ways for the drainage canals prevented this board from accomplishing its assigned task. 

At the beginning of the 19th century, the State of North Carolina owned most of Lake Mattamuskeet. In 1825, the North Carolina Legislature vested title to Lake Mattamuskeet to the State Literary Board of North Carolina with the authority to improve the lands and sell them to support the cause of public education.  

In 1837 the Literary Board completed the excavation of a seven-mile canal, forty feet wide and eight feet deep, from the lake to the Pamlico Sound at Wysocking Bay, using slave labor from Hyde Countyís plantations. The water above sea level flowed by gravity through this canal into the sound, reducing the size of the lake from 120,000 to 55,000 acres.  

The bed of Lake Mattamuskeet has long been regarded as some of the richest soil in the world, having received nutrients from thousands of surrounding acres that have drained naturally into it for years. Soil experts have compared it to the rich land in the Yazoo, Mississippi delta region and the famous Nile River delta in Egypt. 

By the beginning of the 20th century, farmers had been farming the rich land adjacent to the lake without fertilizer for more than 200 years with record yields. Hyde County received an average of 60 inches of rainfall each year. To take advantage of the rich soil, landowners had to devise ways to drain the land and prevent flooding of their crops.


The Mattamuskeet Foundation, Inc

The Mattamuskeet Foundation, Inc.
4377 Lewis Lane Road, Ayden, NC  28513  USA
Ph: 252.746.4221 // Fax: 252.746.4698

© The Mattamuskeet Foundation, Inc. 2001, All Rights Reserved

Creation of this website was partially funded by the
North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development

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