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Chatham County Historical Association

Preserving and sharing the history of Chatham County North Carolina

Jordan Lake

30 Oct 2023 10:07 PM | Anonymous

Jordan Lake didn't exist before 1970--and wasn't full until about 12 years later. Before the project began an extensive exploration of the archaeology of the area was required.

Today most of us are familiar with the lake, beaches, trails, and woodlands at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, but the area was not always a recreational space. After a devastating tropical storm in 1945, the government began to look at methods of flood control for the Cape Fear River basin. In 1962, the Army Corps of Engineers submitted a plan that recommended building three reservoirs. Ultimately only Jordan Lake was constructed.

A thorough archaeological investigation of the area to be flooded was required. The project’s archaeological surveys determined that there were about 350 sites in the area; two were the focus of extensive excavations. Archaeologists verified that Native Americans had inhabited the vicinity as far back as the Early Archaic period—or about 10,000 years ago. To this day the work stands as one of the largest salvage archaeology programs carried out in the state.

In addition to the investigation of Native American artifacts, several dozen cemeteries were identified and moved before the lake was flooded. Information about these is included in CCHA's Cemetery Survey on

The Chatham Community Library has made available online three volumes about the archaeology of the lake area -- a study of the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area before the lake was built, digitized by the Internet Archive with funding from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Open any of the three volumes by opening the link that says "CLICK TO ACCESS THIS TITLE ONLINE" next to the volume you wish to view. Connect to the library record for the document here:

#ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #Jordan Lake #archaeology #NativeAmericanArtifacts

Chatham County Historical Association  ~   ~  PO Box 93  ~  Pittsboro NC 27312  ~  919-542-6222  ~  

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