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Area Waterways

Tar/Pamlico River

Pamlico RiverThe Tar-Pamlico River is made up of two ecologically and geographically distinct portions with different names. The upper portion, the Tar River, originates in Person County as a freshwater spring and flows southeast about 140 miles to Washington, NC. The Tar River is generally believed to be named so because the pine forest of the area were once an important source of tar and other naval stores.

At Washington the name changes to the Pamlico River, a name apparently derived from the tribal name of local Native Americans, the Pamticoughs. As the river flows past Washington it becomes an estuary and is characterized by a wide, shallow bed and brackish water. Here salt water from the ocean mixes with fresh, inland water flowing down the Tar.