Plymouth, North Carolina

Plymouth is the largest town in Washington County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 3,878 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Washington County.[4] Plymouth is located on the Roanoke River about seven miles (11 km) upriver from its mouth into the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina's Inner Banks region.

Plymouth, North Carolina

Location of Plymouth, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°51′35″N 76°44′52″W
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
  Total3.9 sq mi (10.0 km2)
  Land3.9 sq mi (10.0 km2)
  Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
13 ft (4 m)
  Density990/sq mi (390/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
  Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)252
FIPS code37-53040[2]
GNIS feature ID0992600[3]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town of Plymouth has a total area of 3.9 square miles (10 km2), of which, 3.9 square miles (10 km2) of it is land and 0.26% is water.


Historical population
Est. 20183,447[1]−11.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 3,878 people residing in the town. The racial makeup of the town was 68.3% Black, 28.9% White, 0.4% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.1% from some other race and 0.9% of two or more races. 1.2% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 4,107 people, 1,623 households, and 1,119 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,061.7 people per square mile (409.7/km²). There were 1,829 housing units at an average density of 472.8/sq mi (182.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 35.04% White, 63.09% African American, 0.02% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.73% from other races, and 0.51% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.31% of the population.

There were 1,623 households out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.1% were married couples living together, 27.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the town, the population was spread out with 28.6% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 77.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $17,281, and the median income for a family was $26,800. Males had a median income of $26,352 versus $17,350 for females. The per capita income for the town was $12,067. About 30.8% of families and 37.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 54.3% of those under age 18 and 28.8% of those age 65 or over.


The Moratuc tribe of American Indians was living in a large settlement on Welch Creek near the current Domtar pulp mill site in 1585 when the area was explored by English settlers. Moratuc was an Indian name for the Roanoke River. The Moratuc were probably an Algonquian tribe, but there is debate that they may have been Iroquois.[6]

Plymouth was established in 1787 by Arthur Rhodes on 100 acres (0.40 km2) of his Brick House plantation he subdivided into 172 lots. Note that "Brickhouse" is a common local patronym. In 1790 the North Carolina General Assembly named Plymouth a "port of delivery." and in 1808 it was named a "port of entry". The county seat of Washington County was moved to Plymouth from Lee's Mill, as Roper, North Carolina, was then known, by special act of the General Assembly on January 31, 1823. A new courthouse was completed by November 1824 on the same site where the present courthouse stands. It stood until 1862 when it caught fire and burned to the ground from a shell fired by a Union gunboat during bombardment of Plymouth.

Plymouth has the historical distinction of being the site of the second-largest battle in North Carolina and its last Confederate victory, the Battle of Plymouth (1864), during the American Civil War. The Confederate ironclad warship CSS Albemarle — and its eventual sinking on October 27, 1864 while moored at a dock in Plymouth — are the centerpieces of this history.

Beginning early in the war and for its remainder, the Union controlled the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. The geographical importance for the Northern forces of Plymouth's location at the mouth of the Roanoke River was the Union desire to push upriver and capture the vital Wilmington and Weldon Railroad line passing through Weldon, North Carolina, which would completely cut off the major supply line for General Robert E. Lee's army in Virginia from more southerly ports. This would essentially end all materiel support for Lee's forces and force his defeat or retreat from Virginia.

Fort Branch, located upriver at Hamilton, successfully blocked the Union gunboats and troops sailing upstream from Plymouth at the river bend called Rainbow Branch. The fort held until April 10, 1865, one day after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, at which point it was abandoned and its cannons were hurled into the Roanoke River. Thus, the war histories of Fort Branch and Plymouth are intimately connected.[7]

The Port O'Plymouth History Museum, located in the circa 1923 former Atlantic Coast Line Railroad station in downtown Plymouth, has an excellent, nationally recognized collection of Civil War artifacts, including one of the most complete belt-buckle and button collections in the U.S. and a model of the ironclad ram CSS Albemarle.[8]

The Garrett's Island House, Latham House, Perry-Spruill House, Plymouth Historic District, and Washington County Courthouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[9]


The primary industry for the area is Domtar Paper Company, LLC., a paper manufacturer. The paper mill and its related facilities have been the largest employer since 1937. It was owned by Kieckhefer Container Company (John W. Kieckhefer) which was merged into Weyerhauser in 1957. In March 2007, Weyerhauser sold its paper interests to Domtar. The paper mill is now a Domtar papermill, while the onsite sawmill is still owned by Weyerhauser. In October 2009, Domtar announced the end of paper machine operations, and the mill will be converted to produce fluff pulp alone, with a 33% workforce reduction to about 360 employees.

The town is re-branding itself as a tourist destination to offset the reduction in paper-making employment, taking advantage of its natural environment, being surrounded by tracts of forests and swamplands. A riverfront boardwalk has been built, with views of the Roanoke River. Plymouth is home to the North Carolina Black Bear Festival, an annual three-day event at the beginning of June centered around bears.


Notable people


  1. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  2. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  5. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  6. Modlin
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-11-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2008-01-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
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