Above: The Meteor Lakes Byway takes motorists past lakes called Carolina bays, including Jones Lake.
Inset: View of the night sky over Bladen Lakes State Forest.
This scenic drive begins about an hour away from Wilmington in Elizabethtown, the Bladen
County seat. The county was named for Martin Bladen, the state commissioner of trade and
plantations from 1717 to 1746. Elizabethtown, settled in 1773 and possibly named for Queen
Elizabeth I, was the site of the 1781 Revolutionary War Battle of Elizabethtown, where Whigs
broke the Tories’ (colonials devoted to England) power by driving them into a ravine, now known
as Tory Hole, along the Cape Fear River.
From Elizabethtown, travel north on U.S. 701 to N.C. 242. Cross the Cape Fear River and enter the Bladen
Lakes State Forest. About four miles north of the river is Jones Lake. Jones Lake, and nearby White Lake, Single-tary
Lake and Lake Waccamaw, are known as meteor lakes or Carolina bays, thought by some to have been formed
by ancient meteor showers. They gathered water and decomposed organic material over the years to create the fertile farmlands
along this route.
From Jones Lake State Park, the byway passes through the Turnbull Creek Valley. The fields to the right are part of the Big Colly
and Cypress Creek bays. The drive briefly enters Cumberland County, named for the Duke of Cumberland, a son of British King
George II, who led English troops to victory over the Scots at the Battle of Culloden near Inverness, Scotland, in 1746. Ironically,
the area was settled by Scottish Highlanders, the people defeated by the duke.
At the Cumberland/Sampson County line, cross the South River and continue to Roseboro.
Cross Little Coharie Creek north of Roseboro, and travel to Salemburg, founded in 1874 and named for Salem Academy, located
in the town. The school was the forerunner of the North Carolina Justice Academy, where state law enforcement officers obtain
advanced education. A mural depicting the heritage of the area is displayed in town.
The byway ends at the junction of N.C. 242 and U.S. 421, four miles south of Spivey’s Corner in Sampson County. Located at
the headwaters of Little Coharie Creek, Spivey’s Corner is home of the annual Hollerin’ Contest.
april 2021 36
COURTESY OF NC WETLANDS
Meteor Lakes BY WAY
DENNIS SNIPES/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS