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Home North Carolina Hyde County City of New Holland Historical Markers Mattamuskeet Nat'l Wildlife Refuge

Mattamuskeet Nat'l Wildlife Refuge

US 264 at CCC Road, New Holland, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"The refuge, observation tower, and hunting lodge were rehabilitated by Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees, 1934-42."
     Mattamuskeet Lodge, today shuttered but awaiting renovation, is a tangible remnant of repeated failed attempts to drain and farm the bed of Lake Mattamuskeet. The first attempt, using slave labor, was in the mid-1800s. In 1909 the Southern Land Reclamation Company, soon to be renamed New Holland Farms, Inc., purchased from the state 48,830 acres for two dollars per acre. In 1910 bids were opened on the pumping plant (construction was delayed until 1915-16) and the dredging of canals.

Financial problems plagued the operation and in 1923 it shut down. New investors led by New York philanthropist August Hecksher came forward in 1925 and with their backing the lake was successfully drained and farmed for six years. By 1932 persistent heavy rainfall and pest infestations doomed their effort. Over the course of two decades over a million dollars had been invested in the agricultural experiment.

     The entire lake, eighteen miles long and six miles wide, was sold to the federal government in 1934 and declared a wildlife and waterfowl refuge. Through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the old pumping station was saved from ruin and converted into a nationally known hunting lodge. The Hyde County unit of the CCC, Camp # 424, was organized at Bell Island in 1933 but relocated to Mattamuskeet in 1937 and operated there until 1942. The “CCC boys” added nineteen guess rooms, converted the smokestack into an observation tower, surveyed and fenced in refuge property, rescued houses from lake waters, and made other improvements. The lodge closed in 1974 with the decline in the goose population. The CCC veterans held a series of annual reunions at the site in 1989.

Harley E. Jolley, That Magnificent Army of Youth and Peace: The Civilian Conservation Corps in North Carolina, 1933-1942 (2007)
Lewis C. Forrest, Lake Mattamuskeet, New Holland and Hyde County (1989)
East Carolina Regional Development Institute, Lake Mattamuskeet Lodge: Recommendations for Adaptive Reuse (June 1989)--report prepared for the General Assembly
Bill Sharpe, A New Geography of North Carolina, II (1958)
Hyde County Historical Society, Hyde County History (1976)
National Register of Historic Places nomination (1978)