Lake Mattamuskeet's History
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Mattamuskeet Drainage District

n Friday, March 5, 1909, the North Carolina Legislature passed Public Law 509 authorizing the State Board of Education and Hyde County landowners to establish the Mattamuskeet Drainage District to drain Lake Mattamuskeet. The parties hoped to better the economic conditions of Hyde County by reclaiming the rich 50,000 acre lake bed for farming and provide drainage to an additional 50,000 acres of rich farmlands privately owned outside of the lake. The law stated that a board of three commissioners would manage the affairs of the Mattamuskeet Drainage District. The state would have two representatives on the board and the landowners outside the lake would have one.

The creation of the Mattamuskeet Drainage District set in motion a plan that eventually drained and reclaimed Lake Mattamuskeet three times––in 1916, 1920 and in 1926. The third time, the drainage system kept the lake and adjacent farm lands relatively dry for more than five years. 

Since the lake bed was below sea level, the district had to excavate canals to carry the fresh water to the Pamlico Sound, and construct a pumping plant to lift the water from the lake bed into that canal system. The parties patterned the engineering design for the drainage project after the successful 1853 drainage of Haarlem Lake in Holland. 

The drainage commissioners issued 500 six-percent drainage bonds in $1,000 denominations and sold them at par to the First National Bank of Columbus, Ohio, to raise the half-million dollars needed to dredge the canals and build the pumping plant. 

The project also involved three private corporations that owned the lake successively from 1911 to 1934 and were partners in the drainage project. The private companies developed a community called New Holland around the pumping plant that was the center of activity during this 25 year project.


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

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