Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in Hyde County, North Carolina. Established in 1934, the 50,180-acre Refuge consists of open water, marsh, forest and croplands. The centerpiece of the Refuge is the shallow Lake Mattamuskeet. At 40,100 acres, it is North Carolina’s largest natural lake.

The Refuge’s strategic location along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a vitally important stopover for wintering waterfowl. Over the past 35 years, up to 80 percent of the Northern Pintail and up to 30 percent of Green-wing Teal that annually migrate along the Flyway utilize Mattamuskeet. In total, the Refuge attracts more than 200,000 ducks, geese and swans from November through February.

Photo: Allie Stewart, USFWS

Mattamuskeet Lodge | Hyde County, NC

I originally debated on if I should include this in the Forgotten NC series or not, since it really isn't that forgotten, being that it’s both easily found and photographed. But, given the interesting story of it’s history, I decided to include the old lodge.

Built in 1915 along the largest natural lake in NC, the building was not originally a lodge, nor is it today. 

It was built as a pump house to drain Mattamuskeet Lake back in 1915 and at  the time of its completion it was the largest pumping station in the world. The plan was to drain the shallow lake to exploit its rich soil deposits. Between 1911 and 1934 In 1934, three investment groups partnered with the public Mattamuskeet Drainage District to build the pumping plant and drain the lake for commercial, agricultural and residential use. The town of New Holland (named for similar drainage projects in The Netherlands) was planned for the area around the pump facility.

A plaque was installed to commemorate the achievement of man in 1915.

The lake was actually drained three times- in 1916, 1920 and in 1926. In 1934, the project was sold the U.S. Government and was designated a migratory bird sanctuary and the pumping stopped; in 1937 the building reopened as one of the premier hunting lodges in America. In fact, Lake Mattamuskeet became known as the “Canada goose hunting capital of the world.

In 1974, the lodge closed and feel into ruin, with no funding. In 1991 a local community effort was made to fix the old place up and it reopened as an education center in the 1990s. However, in 2000 it was deemed uninhabitable and was closed down again, thanks to corrosion and deterioration in the steel beams that support the structure. Turned over to the state of North Carolina by the government in 2006, efforts are being made to repair and reopen the historical structure.

You can read an incredible amount of great info and history dating back to the 1600’s on the site here, from the Mattamuskeet Foundation.