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Lowest Point: Sea Level at the Atlantic Ocean

Highest Point: 6,684 Feet above sea level at Mount Mitchell

Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone

Population: 6,628,637 (1990)


52,586 square miles
extreme length - 503 miles
extreme breadth - 187 miles.
Coastline - 301 miles

Fishing & Hunting Regulations
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
512 N. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC 27604
Phone: 919-733-3391

Forest Lands - North Carolina has over 19.3 millions acres of forestland. Most of these acres (77%+) are privately owned pieces, many of which are less than 100 acres. The government (state, federal and local) own only 10%. The only states with more forestlands are Georgia, Alabama and Oregon. The forest products industry is the second largest in North Carolina, second only to Textiles.



Geographically, North Carolina is made up of three areas: the Appalachian highlands, the central Piedmont and the coastal plain. Mountain chains in the state are the Blue Ridge Mountains and the great Smoky Mountains, part of the ancient Appalachian Range. There are over 43 peaks with elevations of over 6,000 feet above sea level.

The Piedmont section covers almost half the state ranging from 1,500 foot elevations near the Blue Ridge Mountains to around 500 feet at the fall line. In the southeast you find the sandhills area which boasts sandy soil and longleaf pine. The fall line, ranging from Roanoke Rapids to Rockingham, is the coastal plain. This area has many lakes. The largest is Mattamuskeet which covers around 30,000 acres. The coastline stretches for 320 miles. The bays and lagoons are many with Albemarle and Pamlico among the largest. Between these areas and the sea are the Outer Banks. These are long, narrow barrier islands, the most prominent of which are Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. Many lighthouses here shine out to warn sailors of the dangerous reefs. Strong hurricane tides have caused many shipwrecks. The Outer Banks is a very popular vacation area.

The tallest waterfall east of the Rockies is Whitewater Falls in North Carolina at 411 feet. The largest natural lake is Waccamaw with 35 square miles.


The State Capitol

Division of Archives and History
NC Department of Cultural Resources

1 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: 919-733-4994
Fax: 919-715-4030

The state capitol building was completed in 1840 and is an example of a civic building in the Greek Revival Style of architecture. It is also designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The original statehouse, a simple two-story brick building, was built in this spot between 1792 and 1796 and was designed by Rhodam Atkins. It was enlarged between 1820 and 1824 by state architect William Nichols. An addition was later made in the form of a third flow, eastern and western wings, and a domed rotunda. In 1831, disaster struck when workmen were installing a zinc roof to "fireproof" the building, became careless and the structure burned to the ground.

The new capitol was ordered to be build in 1832. It was to be an enlarged version of the previous building. William Nichols Jr. Was named to design the edifice. He was replaced in August of 1833 by New York architects Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis. They modified the earlier design which gave the building its present-day look. David Paton was hired to be superintendent of the construction in September of 1834. He replaced Town and Davis in 1835 as the architect. He made a few changes, among which was the open, domed rotunda, the overhanging gallery at the second level and the vaulting of some offices and corridors. The exterior and other details were patterned after particular Greek temples. The exterior columns after those of the Greek Parthenon. Much of the interior ironwork, chandeliers, etc came from the Philadelphia area. The building was finally completed in 1840 at a cost of $534,682.34 including furnishing.

The capitol is 160 feet from north to south, 140 feet from east to west (including the porticoes and is 97 ½ feet from the base of the rotunda to the crown atop the dome. The outside walls are built of gneiss (a form of granite). It was quarried in Raleigh and hauled to the site. Interior walls are made of stone and brick. The dome is supported by its original wooden truss system.

Until the 1880's, all of the state government was housed in this capitol building. In 1888, the Supreme Court and State Library moved to a new building. In 1963, the General Assembly moved to their own building. The governor and lieutenant governor and their staffs still occupy the capitol. Many areas of the building are open to public tours.



Explorers, such as Giovanni da Verrazano and Hernando de Soto explored this area as early as 1524. Sir Walter Raleigh, sponsored by Queen Elizabeth I, came in 1585 with the intention of setting up a colony on Roanoke Island. Two years later, Gov. John White, who had a similar charge for another colony, went back to England for supplies. When he returned in 1590, he found no sign of the settlement. The word, "Croatoan" was carved into a tree where the colony had been. The first English child born in American, Virginia Dare, had lived in this colony. Historically, it has been known as the "Lost Colony."

The first permanent colonists were from Virginia. They came in the 1650's and settled on Albemarle Sound. The area had problems with Indian and pirate raids as well as poor government until it was divided in 1712 into North and South Carolina. In 1729, North Carolina became a Crown Colony. Though established as an English settlement and its citizens had fought with the British through the years, by the 1760's, the colonists began to resist the governing of the British. They were among the first to rebel against the Stamp Act in 1765. The first battle of the Revolutionary War in North Carolina was early in 1776 at Moore's Creek Bridge with the colonists emerging successful from the skirmish. North Carolina was the fist state to support independence from Great Britain on April 12, 1776.

Once independence had been established, North Carolina had a lot of fighting left to do, but not necessarily physical fights. There was great poverty in the state, along with economic depression and poor government. In the early 1800's, the state was often referred to as the "Rip Van Winkle State" because of its backward ways and slow growth.

The Civil War began to affect the state when North Carolina seceded, reluctantly, from the Union on May 20, 1861. It was difficult for the state because of its desire to keep the Union together. Unfortunately, the war left great scars on the state. More Confederate troops came from North Carolina than from any other state. Over one-fourth of the war's casualties came from North Carolina troops. Meanwhile, farms and soil had been devastated. The state had a hard road during reconstruction, not only from repairs, but from greedy politicians and carpetbaggers looking to make a profit for themselves at the public's expense.

As the new 20th century began, racial issues began to surface. New laws, many of which were later repealed, were passed which discriminated greatly among other races. Some of these laws had to do with the ability to read and write. The Governor during part of this time, Charles Brantley Aycock, vowed to encourage literacy for whites and, as a result, educational opportunities soared. It was the first state to establish a state University when the University of North Carolina was founded in 1795. Other major universities in the state are Duke University, North Carolina State University and Wake Forest University.

A grand event took place on North Carolina soil on Dec 17, 1903 when Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flight in a power-driven airplane at Kill Devil Hills. The first flight of the day lasted only 12 seconds while the last flight of the day lasted 59 seconds.

Increased industrialization took place during World War II. Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune were both established during the war and remain active today. (1999) Older industries, such as textiles, tobacco and furniture, remained stable, while new ones were introduced, including rubber and plastic plants. Many laboratories were introduced in the late 1950's with government and private business sponsoring research and experiments near Duke and other universities.

Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies
109 East Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

North Carolina Afro-American Heritage Society
PO Box 26334
Raleigh, NC 27611

North Carolina Genealogical Society
PO Box 1492
Raleigh, NC 27602


The State Motto

This motto, "Esse Quam Videri," was adopted in 1893. It appears on the Great Seal of North Carolina along with the date of 20 May 1775. The words of the motto mean "to be rather than to seem." Until its adoption in 1893, North Carolina was one of the few states without a motto and the only one of the original 13 colonies to lack one.

Using Latin is a common practice for states in our country. The reason is that Latin uses fewer words than English. The first two words of the motto would take at least six words in English. These words were first found in Cicero's essay on Friendship (Chapter 26).

The State Song

The Old North State - adopted as the official song of the State of North Carolina by the General Assembly of 1927.

(William Gaston; Collected and Arranged by Mrs. E. E. Randolph)

Carolina! Carolina! heaven's blessings attend her,
While we live we will cherish, protect and defend her,
Tho' the scorner may sneer at and witlings defame her,
Still our hearts swell with gladness whenever we name her.
Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever,
Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State.

Tho' she envies not others, their merited glory,
Say whose name stands the foremost, in liberty's story,
Tho' too true to herself e'er to crouch to oppression,
Who can yield to just rule a more loyal submission.
Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever,
Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State.

Then let all those who love us, love the land that we live in,
As happy a region as on this side of heaven,
Where plenty and peace, love and joy smile before us,
Raise aloud, raise together the heart thrilling chorus.
Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever,
Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State.

State Nickname

"In 1629, King Charles I of England "erected into a province," all the land from Albemarle Sound on the north to the St. John's River on the south, which he directed should be called Carolina. The word Carolina is from the word Carolus, the Latin form of Charles.

When Carolina was divided in 1710, the southern part was called South Carolina and the northern, or older settlement, North Carolina. From this came the nickname the "Old North State." Historians have recorded that the principle products during the early history of North Carolina were "tar, pitch, and turpentine." It was during one of the fiercest battles of the War Between the States, so the story goes, that the column supporting the North Carolina troops was driven from the field. After the battle the North Carolinians, who had successfully fought it out alone, were greeted from the passing derelict regiment with the question: "Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?" Quick as a flash came the answer: "No, not a bit, old Jeff's bought it all up." "Is that so; what is he going to do with it?" was asked. "He's going to put on you-un's heels to make you stick better in the next fight." Creecy relates that General Lee, upon hearing of the incident, said: "God bless the Tar Heel boys," and from that they took the name" (Adapted from Grandfather Tales of North Carolina by R.B. Creecy and Histories of North Carolina Regiments, Vol. III, by Walter Clark).



North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development

301 N. Wilmington
Raleigh, NC 27601-2825
Phone: 919-733-8372 (within NC)
Toll-free: 800-847-4862 (outside NC)
Fax: 919-715-3097

Statewide brochures, maps and assistance for travel planning


North Carolina State Parks

P.O. Box 27687
Raleigh, NC 27611
Phone: 919-733-4181

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina

National Forests in North Carolina

Box 2750
Asheville, NC 28802
Phone: 704-2570-4200
Natl. Res. 800-280-CAMP


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This page was created 5 June 1999

This page was last updated on 19 September 2006 at 9:57 pm

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