Sampling of North Carolina's Archaeological Sites
Pasquotank County, NC
in 1979 during an archaeological survey for a N.C. Department of
Transportation project, the Newland Road site consisted of three
separate, remnant sections of an early 20th century brick road.
Fortunately, only one section of the road was to be affected by
highway construction. In 1980, Section 1 of the road was excavated
and recorded by Department of Transportation archaeologists. During
the excavations, several depositional layers were observed. Three
of these layers were directly related to the construction of the
brick road. The bricks themselves were laid in a fashion analogous
to the American or Stretcher bond pattern of vertical wall construction.
Portland cement was used to bond the bricks to one another. A sandy
cement mortar was placed immediately beneath the brick layer. Beneath
the mortar bed was a layer of grey clay fill, apparently deposited
to establish a level surface for the new roadbed. A thin layer of
cinders was discovered beneath the clay, and may be evidence of
an earlier roadbed.
On December 1, 1919,
Pasquotank County officials proposed the construction of a paved
highway from Elizabeth City northward to Norfolk, Virginia, via
South Mills in Camden County. While the State Highway Commission
considered the proposal, the Pasquotank Highway Commission began
construction of the Newland Road. After fourteen months, the proposal
was accepted by the State Highway Commission. By this time nearly
five miles of the road had been completed. As the road was only
nine feet wide, it did not meet state standards. In an effort to
compromise, it was agreed that the width would remain nine feet
from the northern end near Morgan's Corner to Knobbs Creek. From
there to Elizabeth City, the width of the road was 16 to 18 feet.
The brick road generally
followed a route long established in the history of Pasquotank County,
parts of which were used as early as 1770. US 17 replaced the brick
road between 1930 and 1936. Although the Newland brick road was
not unique, it and others like it contributed significantly to the
early widespread use of the automobile in coastal North Carolina.
In the areas where they were located, brick roads probably contributed
more to the economic and social lives of the citizens than to the
advancement of highway technology. While the highways would be improved
in later years, brick roads bridged the nearly impassable swamplands
of coastal North Carolina, opening the door for commercial development.
The two remaining sections of the old Newland road in Pasquotank
County represent vestiges of that county's effort to accomodate
the new era of transportation, an era that brought the automobile
to North Carolina and began a sociocultural transformation of the
The Newland Road was
listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 14,
by Dolores A.
Hall, NC Office of State Archaeology
by permission from the NEWSLETTER of the Friends of
North Carolina Archaeology, Inc., Winter 1987, Volume 3, Number 1.
© North Carolina Archaeological Society 1987
to ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES