As a component to the Great Dismal Swamp project, I travelled to several surrounding communities and historical sites. As a geek who has always loved reading about the historic significance of the places I visit, having an opportunity to tell the story is very exciting for me!

Hand-dug canals

Deep Creek was a key stop for the lumber trade out of the Swamp. Located to the northeast of the boundaries of the refuge, the creek that also bears the name is connected to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal. The hand-dug canal is the oldest operating artificial waterway in the United States.

Outside the wildlife refuge, plenty of wildlife

The story of Deep Creek's most famous former resident, Moses Grandy, is very relevant. Born into slavery, he dug the surrounding canals, then commanded ships navigating them. He was ultimately able to buy freedom for himself and his family after several failed attempts. To avoid being recommitted to slavery, they moved to Boston where he published his autobiography and aided the abolitionist cause. The road named for him, Moses Grandy trail, intersects with George Washington Highway in the center of Deep Creek.

Some photos take themselves

Founded in 1876 by recently freed slaves, The Indian Woods Missionary Baptist Church in Bertie County, NC stands distinctly. Surrounded by plantations, the church is one of the oldest standing African American churches in North Carolina. It has undergone several renovations in its 150 years, but the cemetery to the east endures.
Established around 1902, the Cornland School educated many African American children around Deep Creek until 1952, despite its modest size. Built and maintained without any outside support, the scant details of this schoolhouse's history are still being discovered. It sat in obscurity until 2009, and now former students are currently trying to restore the site. Follow this link to the Cornland School Foundation's website for further information.

Restoration in progress

Deep Creek and its waterways

There are a few more photos from this project up on the north side of the James River. I'll share more at the end of the month.
Click here to check out the Wilderness Society's page on the swamp.
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