Edenton-Windsor Loop - Coastal Scenic Drives
This route is a figure-eight loop that begins and ends in Edenton in Chowan County. From the intersection of North Broad Street (N.C. 32) and West Queen Street (U.S. 17 Business), follow West Queen Street across Pembroke Creek, one of the two creeks that forms Edenton Bay. Turn left at the intersection of U.S. 17 and U.S. 17 Business. It is about one mile to the Chowan River. Named around 1657 for a local tribe of Algonquin Indians, the Chowan River is about two miles wide at this point.
While crossing the bridge on a clear day, notice the railroad trestle drawbridge to the left. Just after the bridge pass through the Edenhouse community. It was the site of the home of Governors Charles Eden and Gabriel Johnston built about 1671. If the water is low enough you may notice regularly placed poles in the water near the shoreline. These were used in the early seine fishing industry. After crossing the bridge, continue for 5.3 miles to the intersection with N.C. 45 and turn left.
Turn right three miles later and follow Sans Souci/Woodard Road (S.R. 1500) to N.C. 308. Sans Souci is from the French for “without care or worry” and was the name of a plantation located nearby. It is just over four miles to the N.C. 308 intersection. Continue on Sans Souci for almost two miles. Automobiles may cross the Cashie River on the Sans Souci Cable Ferry.
NOTE: Because the cable ferry cannot accommodate larger vehicles, recreational vehicles should not follow this leg of the route. Instead, backtrack to N.C. 308, turn left and go to Windsor.
The community of Sans Souci is just across the river. Here the road is unpaved for the next two miles. As Sans Souci/Woodard Roadturns, it parallels the course of the Cashie River, one of only a few rivers with its complete course in one county. From the end of the gravel road it is 1.7 miles to the community of Woodard, for which this part of the road is sometimes named. From Woodard it is about seven miles to the U.S.13/17 intersection.
Turn right onto U.S. 13/17 and follow it for almost 1.5 miles. Bear right at the intersection and follow U.S. 13 Business (South Granville Street) into Windsor (see map).
Named for Windsor Castle in England, Windsor was settled in 1722 and is the entry and business center on the road to Halifax. The main streets in town are King, York and Queen with the cross streets being named for the Lords Proprietors.
Northwest of town is Hope Plantation, the home of Governor David Stone. Built about 1800, it is an impressive example of federal architecture. Admission is charged to this privately-owned National Register Historic site.
South Granville Street becomes Granville Street at the U.S. 13 Business intersection with N.C. 308. Continue straight and then turn right onto King Street (N.C. 308). Enjoy views of some of North Carolina’s finest residential architecture of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is three-tenths of a mile until King Street crosses the Cashie River. For the next 1.5 miles N.C. 308 and U.S. 17 share the road. Follow N.C. 308 by turning right off of U.S. 17. The next 11 miles again parallel the Cashie River.
At the stop sign turn right and follow N.C. 45/308 across the Three Rivers bridge. Located at the mouth of Bachelor Bay, the Cashie, Middle and Roanoke rivers meet in the beautiful flowing delta below. Batchelor Bay forms the head of the Albemarle Sound and was the site of a Civil War Battle that the Confederates won in 1864.
Continue on N.C. 308 by turning left at the light. Follow this road for about seven miles, past Mackeys (known locally as Mackeys Ferry), originally the south terminal of the Albemarle Sound ferry which once operated where the railroad now crosses the sound. The earliest recorded ferry was known as T. Bells ferry in 1733. Settled in 1765, Mackeys was named for Colonel William Mackey, a local land owner who bought the ferry from Bellin 1735.
Turn left onto U.S. 64 East and follow for five miles until N.C. 32 turns left. A local landmark on U.S. 64 near Skinnersville is Rehoboth Church, built by slaves in 1853. This chapel is built on the site of an earlier colonial Anglican church. It also is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Follow N.C. 32 across the Albemarle Sound Bridge, opened in 1989. At more than three miles long, it is the longest bridge over water in the state. The Albemarle Sound was explored by Europeans as early as 1586 when it was called the Sea of Roanoke. Named for George Monck, Duke of Albemarle, most of North Carolina’s earliest settlements may be found along its shores.
One mile after crossing the bridge turn left onto Soundside Road (S.R. 1114). This six-mile road follows a road built by early settlers who followed old Indian trails along the shores of the sound. Called Soundside Road for more than 200 years, early plantations were found along its path. Follow Soundside Road until it intersects with N.C. 32.
Turn left onto N.C. 32. One mile later cross Queen Anne Creek, one of the two creeks that forms Edenton Bay. Enter the town of Edenton, North Carolina’s first provincial capital, one mile after crossing the creek on East Church Street.
Edenton, settled around 1685, was laid out in 1712 and incorporated in 1722. It was named for provincial Governor Charles Eden. In town you will see numerous historical markers identifying the town’s Revolutionary leaders and signers of the Declaration of Independence. Edenton was one of the most prosperous ports on the trade route in the 18th and 19th centuries. The pirate Blackbeard made frequent stops here. Some of North Carolina’s best public and private architecture also may be seen here. Included is the Cupola House, built in 1757 and considered the south’s finest example of Jacobean architecture.
Boston is not the only city of the Revolutionary War era to host a “Tea Party.” Penelope Barker and several other ladies of the town held their own in 1774. To learn more about the history of the area, visit the James Iredell State Historic Site. Tours for this and other historic buildings begin at the Barker House on the waterfront in Historic Edenton.
The loop tour ends where it began at the intersection of North Broad Street (N.C. 32) and West Queen Street (U.S. 17 Business).
Length: 87 miles
Driving Time: 2 hours
Counties: Bertie, Chowan, Washington
courtesy of NC Department of Transportation
added: September 15, 2009
updated: September 25, 2009
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