GOLDSBORO -- There’s a spot along the Neuse River southeast of Goldsboro that is highly unusual in the coastal plain. Cliffs rise from the river to a height of 90 feet, for a stretch of 600 yards.
“These cliffs are rare in the fact that this is the only formation of its kind that you find along the south side of the Neuse, anywhere from its headwaters down to New Bern,” said Ed Wilkerson from Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.
What is known as the Cliffs of the Neuse is a geologic anomaly.
“The cliffs were formed by plate collision; there was no, it's not sedimentation that's been forced up onto the cliff from the river, at all,” said Wilkerson.
The formation is so unique that people have long ventured out to see the cliffs. In 1945, the cliffs and the surrounding land was established and protected as Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.
“This is one of the reasons that this property was set aside for preservation, because this is a very striking view of the Neuse River,” said Wilkerson.
Many state parks are established simply as sanctuaries, places for people to play and enjoy nature. The cliffs provide something just a little more special.
“It gives visitors something else to come to Cliffs of the Neuse to look at, in addition to our trail system and the swim-lake and the campground,” he said.
The state park is more than the cliffs alone. It borders the river for two miles, and there are 900 acres for visitors to explore. There are numerous trails that cut through the mixed pine and hardwood forest.
“People can come out and can see an undisturbed, pristine forest that's being allowed to mature at its own rate,” said Wilkerson.
The park also acknowledges a rich local history. During the Civil War, an ironclad ramming vessel, the CSS Neuse, was built in nearby Whitehall for the Confederate Navy.
"It was built, attacked, survived the attack, was set adrift to float down the river for completion, ran aground and was eventually set afire by the Confederates,” said Wilkerson.
There are also plenty of relics from an earlier period such as when the Tuscarora Indians made this area their home.
“They used the land as all Native Americans did in eastern North Carolina, but the Neuse was a focal point for them,” said Wilkerson.
Put the cliffs, together with that history and other amenities, and it makes Cliffs of the Neuse State Park a rather attractive package.
“It's really nice to have a geologic attraction such as the cliff and have some cultural significance at the same time,” said Wilkerson.