REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS AND ANALYSIS
Access and Circulation
Moores Creek National Military Park is located on N.C. 210, near Currie, Pender County, North Carolina. The park is some 20 miles northwest of Wilmington, the nearest city of significant size. North Carolina 210 bisects the area into two sections: a portion lying south of the highway containing the historic features, and a smaller portion north of the highway used for picnicking and park residences.
All visitors to the area arrive by private automobile or chartered bus. Within 4.3 miles east of the park, N.C. 210 intersects U.S. 421, which runs northwest from Wilmington. U.S. 421 has been named and labeled, the "Moores Creek Battleground Highway." Continuing further east 12 miles, N.C. 210 crosses U.S. 117, another coast to interior highway. Road signs at these intersections give directions to "Moores Creek Battleground." Other signs direct visitors to the park from N.C. 53, which crosses N.C. 210 some five miles west of Moores Creek.
U.S. 17, U.S. 74, and U.S. 76 pass through Wilmington but they provide access to the area only by transfer to highways already mentioned.
Of the 33,462 visitors to the park in 1967, by far the great majority originated from within a 150 mile radius. During the past decade Moores Creek has experienced a gradual increase in visitation with the trend being much the same as in 1967. The trend could change to include more visitors from greater distances if there was more effective publicity emphasis in the Wilmington area or from bicentennial activities in 1976.
Railroads and airlines serve Wilmington, but since one must have vehicular transportation to reach the park, it is rare that visitors arrive by this means. One must make an effort to visit Moores Creek; very seldom does one happen on it by accident.
Pender County, in which Moores Creek is located, includes an area of 857 square miles and population of 18,508 (1960 census). Although births were much higher than deaths in the county between 1950 and 1960, a substantial out migration left only a 0.5 percent increase for the decade. The population growth has increased somewhat in the years since 1960 but constitutes no major change in the established trend.
Regional population centers* include:
Surroundings and Existing Use
The military park is located in an area of second growth forest land broken here and there by small farms. Chief agricultural products are tobacco, soy beans, corn, grain, and blueberries. Woodland is harvested for the pulp industry. The few commercial enterprises in the vicinity consist of small general stores with gasoline pumps. No significant industrial, commercial, or residential developments exist near the park. However, new industrial development on the Cape Fear River near Wilmington could conceivably, in the distant future, increase the demand for area property for residential use.
Regional Recreation Resource Use
The Moores Creek region has a great deal to offer the visitor in its outdoor recreation, scenery and historic sites. The outdoor recreation use is primarily water oriented and located along the coast. This seems to be the case for residents of the region as well as those from more distant points. Because of this trend, tourist promotion organizations have placed greater emphasis on areas near the coast.
Publicly-owned beach areas within 150 airline miles of Moores Creek include Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Croatan National Forest, Hammocks Beach State Park, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, and Myrtle Beach State Park. These areas provide an excellent variety of facilities, but with the exception of Fort Fisher, none is nearer than 75 miles to Moores Creek. However, within 40 miles are Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, which are typical of the beach resort communities found along the southeastern Atlantic Coast. Tourism leaders in the greater Wilmington area anticipate an improvement in their shortage of camping facilities in the vicinity with the development of Snows Cut State Park near Carolina Beach in the immediate future.
Some 30 miles inland from Moores Creek, Jones Lake State Park and Singletary Lake State Group Camp offer camping and picnicking in a freshwater setting. In the same general area, commercial facilities are available at White Lake and farther south at Lake Waccamaw.
Even though the region is relatively flat in topography, it offers an interesting variety of scenery. Whether it is sand hills, pine trees, live oaks and Spanish moss, swamps, cypress, or formal azalea and aquatic gardens, it is unusual and different for the visitor from outside the region.
Wilmington is noted for its annual Azalea Festival, which features, among many things, the city-owned Greenfield Gardens and the Commercial Airlie Gardens. In the Carolina low country, history is one of the more popular resources. Within 150 miles of Moores Creek, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park of the Revolution and Fort Sumter National Monument of Civil War fame are prime attractions.
The restored Governor's Palace at New Bern also has close ties with the Moores Creek story.
Even in the lower Cape Fear basin itself, the history story spans 3 centuries. Brunswick Town State Historic Site and the City of Wilmington are representative of the Colonial Period. Joining Moores Creek in the Revolutionary Period is Wilmington's Burgwin Wright House where Lord Cornwallis maintained his headquarters during the winter of 1780-81. The grandeur of the antebellum period is reflected in many architecturally significant buildings in Wilmington's historic district and in Orton Plantation on the south bank of the Cape Fear River. Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Fort Anderson State Historic Site, and the newly developed Blockade Runner Museum contribute to the area's Civil War story; and even World War II is represented by the vicinity's most popular attraction, the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship Memorial.
FACTORS AFFECTING RESOURCE USE
Over the years efforts toward national recognition finally culminated in the Act of Congress of June 2, 1926, that created Moores Creek National Military Park (44 Stat. 684) and placed it under War Department administration. By executive order on August 10, 1933 (Executive Orders 6166 and 6228), administration was transferred to the National Park Service, Department of the Interior (see Appendix A).
Occasional flooding due to the low-lying nature of the land along the creek presented the need for additional land, so permanent structures could be erected on high ground. By Act of Congress on September 27, 1944 (88 Stat. 746) the Secretary of the Interior was authorized to accept donations of land for the park not to exceed 100 acres. Under this authority, the State of North Carolina donated an additional 12.23 acres which were accepted by the Department on February 20, 1953. The new land provided necessary high ground, rounded off the old boundaries and afforded protection to more of the stage road.
On February 8, 1962, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior approved a western boundary extension of 7.45 acres to include historic lands but the land has never been purchased.
The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Part 7, Paragraph 20, specifies certain visiting hours at the park.
In 1926, the Federal Government was granted exclusive jurisdiction over the 30 acres covered by Deed No. 1. In 1953, proprietorial jurisdiction was received over the additional 12.23 acres described by Deed No. 2.
A special use permit has been issued to the Four County Electric Membership Corporation, Burgaw, N.C., for construction of an aerial power line parallel to Highway N.C. 210. The expiration date is March 28, 1970.
The Moores Creek climate can perhaps best be described as moderate. Mean maximum temperature for July is 89 degrees with the mean low for January at 37 degrees. The record high is 104 degrees and the record low is 5 degrees.
Humidity is normally high.
Normal precipitation is near 50 inches, and although the summer months are the wettest, no month averages less than 2.71 inches. There are occasions, usually during tropical storms, when a considerable amount of rain may fall in a 24-hour period. The record is 9.52 inches. An average of 1.5 inches of snow and sleet falls each year.
With the exception of the fall months, when winds come from the Northeast, the prevailing winds are from the northwest at an average of 9.4 m.p.h. Since 1901, the area has received some 18 tropical storms with winds usually rising well above hurricane force. Moores Creek is far enough inland that during these storms the major threat is from winds and not water.
Lowland areas adjacent to the creek below 10 feet of elevation are subject to occasional inundation after periods of prolonged rain. Land below 5 feet elevation is frequently flooded, perhaps several times a year. Flooding is usually a result of water backing up from the Black River and thus it rises and recedes very slowly, causing a minimum of soil erosion. The worst aspect of flooding is that a portion of the park is not usable while it is under water. Under normal conditions the creek at the park location experiences a 2- to 2.5-foot tidal fluctuation.
On typical sandhill areas, the following ground composition may occur: one to three inches of top soil; 2 to 12 inches of grey sand; and then 1 foot to 10 feet of yellow sand. Gravel and clay deposits frequently occur at surface level or at various depths.
Several feet of surface muck may be present in some areas of swampland. Depth of the water table will average 5 to 10 feet. The nature of the soil causes rapid water permeability. Frost penetration generally is slight, averaging 1 to 3 inches with a maximum of 5 to 6 inches. Bearing capacity tests have not been made at Moores Creek. The usual foundation types in the vicinity are built of brick and concrete with a depth of 1 to 5 feet.
Special foundation or soil problems of an extensive nature do not exist. Structural failures due to soil or foundation design have not arisen.
Although serious woods fires have occurred in the vicinity, none are known to have burned on lands within the boundaries of the park. For the most part, land surrounding the park is of the sandhill type, and the vegetation is highly susceptible to fire at times during the year. While the fire season usually occurs from December through June, combustible conditions may develop at any time. An 8-foot fire lane is maintained along the boundary to help prevent encroachment from adjacent lands. Fire-fighting equipment is kept at the park utility area and the State Forest Service is available for assistance with an office only 6 miles away. Records indicate that Moores Creek has never had a building fire. Fire plugs are located near the visitor center and residences, and considerable fire-fighting equipment is available for emergencies. The nearest community fire station is at Atkinson, 5 miles away.
Artesian well water is available in quantity now, but will lessen as the burgeoning populations requires more water, thus lowering the water table.
VISITOR USE OF RESOURCES
With the exception of a sharp decline in the early 1960's, Moores Creek has shown a gradual increase in annual visitation. The increase has usually varied from 7.5 to 10 percent. The 1967 visitor use was 33,463 and the long range projection by the Service is for 52,000 by 1976, the bicentennial of the battle.
Heaviest normal park visitation is experienced on Sundays between 1 to 5 o'clock in the afternoon. This consists of predominately local travel and as many as 300 people may visit the park during these hours in spring and summer.
Use of the picnic ground is principally by small family groups. Family reunions and organizational gatherings which bring large numbers are increasing annually. School groups also use the picnic facilities as part of their visit. Because of the park's isolation from comparable facilities, the picnic ground serves a decidedly useful purpose. In comparison with the visitation in the historic area of the park, however, visitor use at the picnic area remains minor in nature. Travel there will seldom exceed one-third of the total visitation, even in the park spring season.
Although most picnickers continue to use the older shelter near the creek, the Moores Creek Battleground Association holds its periodic meetings in the new Patriots Hall. Patriots Hall is a versatile picnic facility which is enclosed, lighted and heated. The building contains modern restroom facilities and a small meeting room which has a future potential for audiovisual programs related to conservation education. The large central room, by removal of the picnic tables, can also double as an auditorium.
Organized groups come throughout the year with a much heavier concentration in the spring. Of the 54 school groups that visited Moores Creek in 1967, some 37 came in May. Groups are generally offered personal services by the staff.
For the most part, visitation to Moores Creek is by family groups whose duration of stay will not exceed an hour or two. Although surveys have not been made, indications are that 25 percent of the visitors remain less than a half hour, while 50 percent remain somewhat longer and the remaining 25 percent stay longer than an hour. School and other groups will remain in the park from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the activities planned. Mosquitoes reduce the length of stay during the summer season.
A 1967 survey indicates that 87 percent of the visitors to Moores Creek originate in North Carolina, and half that number live within 40 miles to the Park. There is presently no evidence to support a change in this trend.
Last Updated: 07-May-2007