New Hope Creek

by Nicolette L. Cagle, Ph.D. (7 June 2012)

New Hope Creek, located in rural Orange County and part of Duke Forest’s Korstian Division, drains southern Durham County and western Orange County. The first records of New Hope Creek come from John Lawson’s 1701 expedition, when he described an Occoneechee Indian village along its banks (Lawson, 1707; Magnuson, 2006). The bottomlands of New Hope Creek provided fertile agricultural land for the Siouan tribe (Lawson, 1707; Magnuson, 2006).  By the 1800’s, New Hope Creek basin supported the grist mills of early Piedmont pioneers (Dunaway, 2012). The Patterson family mill site is preserved and situated in the Duke Forest (Korstian Division) (Dunaway, 2012). After major flooding in the region in September 1945, following three days of rain and a Category 1 hurricane (Hudgins, 2000), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began to incorporate New Hope Creek into their regional water management plans. By 1973, New Hope Creek was dammed to form Jordan Lake from which the communities of Cary, Apex, Chatham, Durham, Raleigh, Hillsborough, and Chapel Hill draw drinking water. Today, New Hope Creek is part of a comprehensive conservation plan approved in 1992 by the City of Durham, Durham County, Orange County and Chapel Hill. It is further recognized as one of the most significant wildlife habitats in the Triangle (TLC, 2012).

New Hope Creek is located in the Cape Fear River Basin and feeds into Jordan Lake. It is located adjacent to the red square on this map, which delineates the watershed of Sandy Creek, a tributary of New Hope Creek located in the Duke Forest. Figure from Richardson et al. (2011).


Dunaway, S. 2012. The History of Patterson Mill – New Hope Creek, Orange County. Hillsborough, NC: Lulu Publishing. 192 pp.

Hudgins, J. E. 2000. Tropical cyclones affecting North Carolina since 1586: An historical perspective. Bohemia, NY: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS ER-92. 109 pp.

Magnuson, T. 2006. Native Americans in the New Hope Bottoms. Chapel Hill, NC: New Hope Creek Corridor Advisory Committee. Available at

Richardson, C. J., N. E. Flanagan, M. Ho, and J. W. Pahl. 2011. Integrated stream and wetland restoration: A watershed approach to improved water quality on the landscape. Ecological Engineering 37(1): 25-39

Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC). 2012. “New Hope Creek”. [accessed: 23 April 2012].

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