Washington County by lonyoo


									               Washington County

 Captivated by Natural Beauty, Enriched with its Own Historic
   background leaves reassurance for local towns tourism
                                       BY LISA SPRUILL

Washington County is known for its vast            Washington County consists of three

waterway (Albemarle Sound) and for               incorporated towns, Plymouth, Roper

being the first county in America to be          and Creswell. All three towns are

named after Gen. George Washington,              located along U.S. Highway 64.

before he became president of the United         Plymouth is the westernmost town and

States.                                          also the county seat. Roper is located

 Washington County is located in the             more centrally in the county, with

northeastern region of North Carolina.           Creswell being the easternmost town in

Its breath- taken 336 square miles of            the county.

land are filled with beautiful waterway            Washington County has been

and bountiful wildlife. This small but           recognized by the National Geographic

quaint county is bounded by the winding          Magazine as having the state’s second

Roanoke River on the northwest side,             largest natural lake- Lake Phelps-

and on the north side, it is bordered by         located in the town of Creswell, once

the largest fresh water sound in the             known as Cool Springs.

United States- the Albemarle Sound.

   Offshore of Lake Phelps is Pettigrew      sycamore tree and exit at the picnic area.

State Park. The park is in the middle of     Shearin says that the hollow tree trunk is

Washington County-in the town of             always a favorite of the children that

Crewsell. Deep within the forest of          play in the park.

Pettigrew State Park grow cypress trees      The Park has nature trails that lead to

that date back at least a 100 years. Sid     some of the state’s largest trees. These

Shearin, parks superintendent, is familiar   trails not only lead to exploring nature

with the park’s surrounding trees; so        but also lead to exploring the park’s

familiar that he has named several of        historical findings. Along one of these

them and today they are recognized by        trails the park has provided an

his given names. He has named a 120-         information center filled with ancient

foot tree the “Lake Phelps Monster”. Its     artifacts found as early as 8,000 B.C.

hollow spots look like peering eyes.         sunken deep within the lake itself.

 With the passing of time, tree. Which       These artifacts once belonged to Native

once grew deep within the lake’s sand,       Americans.

now stand tall along the bank of Lake         Canoes have been recovered from the

Phelps. Their branches are covered with      bottom of the lake, one as large as 37

towering volumes of moss, as high as         feet in length. Native Americans made

one’s eyes can see. Each branch weighs       canoes by burning the interiors of

heavily downward, giving the trees a         cypress logs then carved away the

scary look. Their trunks have a cavity       charred wood leaving only a shell left to

large enough for children to play hide       sit in. After their seasonal hunting

and seek. You can enter the hollow           season was over,today’s archaeologists

believe that the Native Americans sank          Aside from Mother’s Nature gifts,

their canoes until next hunting season,        Washington County abounds with

hoping to protecting them. These               admirable man-made contributions, such

artifacts included pottery and at least 30     as Somerset Place. This plantation

sunken canoes.                                 offers a comprehensive and realistic

  Lake Phelps is one of North Carolina’s       view of the 19th century lifestyle of both

clearest lakes. Shearin says, “Since           slaves and master of the slaves. Lake

there is no city or agricultural runoff into   Phelps borders this plantation to the

the lake, it is one of North Carolina’s        present day, five-by-eight miles to be

least polluted bodies of water. Only rain      exact. To the earliest days of Somerset

feed into the lake.”                           to the endCivil War, people of different

Davis Spencer, resident of Creswell            races and economic statuses lived on the

says, “I like the lake because I can wade      property. Somerset Place became one of

in it, wet a hook and within minutes, I’ve     the upper south’s largest plantations.

got a large mouth bass.” The Public            The Civil War brought closure to the

Broadcasting Station-stationed in              prosperity of Somerset Place. Today,

Raleigh recently filmed an hour-long           tours are given to the public in hopes of

documentary on the large mouth bass            reliving the lives of the plantation’s

living in Lake Phelps. “This lake is as        owners, the enslaved community, the

good as it gets for catching large mouth       employed whites and the free blacks.

bass in Northeastern North Carolina,”

says Spencer.

                                            weave simple fabric for clothes,

 Creswell boasts a number of well-          tablecloths and other uses. Recycling

preserved old homes and historic sites in   was a way of life for the Davenport

town and surrounding countryside. One       family. Kathy Smith, volunteer at the

preserved home is the Daniel Davenport      Davenport Homestead, says she enjoys

Homestead. This old and rustic home         portraying the life style of the late 1700s.

can be visited at any time during the       “Makes me appreciate what I have in the

year. Judy Mayo, Washington County          20th century, especially when it comes to

tourism director, says, “When you arrive    doing the laundry,” says Smith. People

at the Davenport Home, you step             from all over come to the Davenport

through the front door and step back in     Homestead to relive the past.

time.”                                      Heart of Washington County

  Several townsfolk welcome tourist at       The largest town in Washington

the Davenport Homestead by portraying       County is Plymouth. It became the first

the lifestyles of the Davenport family.     incorporated town in Washington

Unlike the Somerset Place, the              County in 1787. Plymouth is best

Davenport home wasn’t filled with           known for its involvement in the Civil

lavished luxuries. The house is less than   War that took place 240 years after the

600 square feet, not much bigger than       Pilgrims came ashore.

our family room for today’s home. They       “By 1956 Plymouth was the second

did not have slaves to help scrub           largest seaport in North Carolina,” says

clothing or to help make quilts and rugs    Harry Thompson, curator of the Civil

with discarded rags. A loom was used to     War Museum. Merchants used boats as a

means for transporting their goods.        reenactment. On May 1, The History

Soon, transportation began to slow         Channel cable network, will be on site

down. Trucks eventually replaced trains    filming its third annual reenactment of

and boats. As the train station slowly     the Civil War. Residents take pride in

began closing, the town’s people made      portraying the events; it’s their way of

complaints. As a result, the station       showing respect to the heroic soldiers

owner gave one of the three condemned      that lost their lives during the war.

stations to the Plymouth community,        Plymouth Today

now recognized as the Civil War              Downtown Plymouth has redeveloped

Museum.                                    itself. Within 19 months, 27 of the

  Plymouth residents relive the history    downtown buildings have been sold.

of the Civil War in both memories and      These buildings now house an ice cream

by actual reenactment. On February 1,      shop, an antique shops, a coffee shop,

2001, a group of local residents met for   The Garden Spot Cafe, the Oyster Bar,

the first time to form an organization     Andy Womble’s law office, many hair

that would help bring understanding of     salons, The Soundside Group, a cotton

the War between the Sates. Members         distributor, and a child advocacy agency.

participate in the reenactment of the        Few businesses that have been

battle to give the correct historical      downtown for a number of years are still

impression of Navy life during the Civil   going strong. These businesses are the

War period.                                Jewel Shop, Brenda’s flower shop, Heart

Residents of Plymouth are preparing        to Heart flowers, Time Finance,

especially hard for this years’ annual     Cherry’s Appliances, Royalty Finance

and the Civil War Museum. Each shop         lighthouse once more overlooks the

carries a unique touch of memorable         Roanoke River.

history inside as a reminder of the           Plymouth has many places of interest

town’s achievements.                        in Washington County but one that’s

  One of the great achievements for         worth visiting is The Garden Spot Café.

Plymouth residence is the rebuilding of a   This café is known for serving a unique

lighthouse that once stood on the           menu for lunch and dinner. They serve

Roanoke Rivers banks. This lighthouse       steak, salad, seafood, sandwiches, wraps

was used to guide ships safely into         and their famous county cooked

Plymouth’s harbor. The original             barbecue ribs. The Garden Spot opened

lighthouse was burned to the grown in       for business in 2002 and has become a

1885. Today, at the end of Water Street,    popular eating ground for both residence

stands a replica of the original            and tourist.

lighthouse. The original blueprints,          Randy Swain, resident of Plymouth-

dating back to 1866, were used to           says, “ I don’t have to travel 50 miles

rebuild the lighthouse. “We went all the    anymore just to get a great tasting

way to California to get the blueprints     seafood platter, The Garden Spot hits the

from the man that took care of them all     spot for me.”

his life. I was told to get rid of these     “There’s food to suit everyone’s taste

prints but I just couldn’t,” says Harry     and style. You have a choice of

Thompson, curator of the Civil War          Mexican, Japanese, Italian, Seafood or

Museum. Now this remarkable                 just old fashion fast food,” says Mayo,

                                            Washington Tourism Director.

  Plymouth offers a wide variety of          Kanban Inc., a warehousing facility,

choices for their traveling tourists’        French Ketch Seafood Inc., Inc. and a

needs. Plymouth received their newly         new medical waste facility in Creswell.

built hotel, Holiday Inn Express, three      The towns of Creswell and Roper are

years ago. A larger hotel was neededin       now pursuing industrial opportunities in

order to accommodate the growing             their jurisdictions. With the upcoming

number of tourist traveling through the      expansion of Highway 64 all of

Washington County area.                      Washington County will prosper.

  Erica Daniel, front desk receptionist at      Weyerhaeuser Paper Company is the

the Holiday Inn Express, says, “We have      County’s largest industries. Its enormous

60 rooms, and at start of Memorial Day       plant is located on approximately 24

weekend, all rooms are filled until the      acres of land along the Roanoke River in

summer ends.” Along with the Holiday         Plymouth. Over 2,400 jobs are

Inn Express, there are three smaller         provided for local residents.

motels.                                      Weyerhaeuser manufactures pulp, paper,

  The industry for Washington County         lumber, and salt treated lumber. Today,

has sore to great heights over recent        Weyerhaeuser has three million acres of

years. The county has been experiencing      timberland.

new business and commercial                    The second largest employment

development especially along US              provider for Washington County is

Highway 64. New additions to the             Agriculture. Eastern North Carolina

county are Gulfstream Products, a            consists mainly of farmland. Plymouth

manufacturer of fiberglass tubing,           residents are involved in agriculture

year- round. Most of the crops grown          the hearts of everyone, who ventures its

are corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts,           great land.

tobacco, cotton, cabbage and sage. The

planting of each crop is a year- round

cycle; that assures residents with jobs

and maintains the agricultural economy.

 Washington County Public Schools are

responsible for being the county’s third

major employer. There are

approximately 2,400 students in five

schools; a Pre-K school, a Pre-K-6th

grade school, a 5th-8th grade school, a

7th-12th grade school and a 9th-12th

school. Washington County schools

provide over 424 jobs for their residents.

County public schools give an economic

boost for resident of Washington


 Washington County has an ample

supply of natural beauty, rich historical

background and promising industry. If

you’re already a resident or just visiting,

Washington County is sure to captivate


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