Wake County and Raleigh, North Carolina on a 1914 soil map

A section of the 1914 Wake County Soil Map.
Raleigh on the 1914 Wake County soil map. | Photo via State Archives of North Carolina

Ever found yourself thinking, what was Raleigh like 107 years ago? (Give or take a few years.) We certainly have, but then again, we’re pretty into Raleigh history. Luckily for y’all, we know exactly how the city looked back in 1914 thanks to an unexpected source: a soil map

What the heck is a soil map?

As part of a national agricultural project in the late 19th + early 20th century, different types of soil were mapped in agricultural counties so people would know what to plant. 

These maps have the added bonus of showing us modern day folks exactly which parts of our cities existed back then. The map of Raleigh pictured above was drawn up in 1914 — check out the full interactive map here.

Boone's Pond in Raleigh
Boone’s Pond before it was drained + filled. | Photo via State Archives of North Carolina

So what’s changed?

Thanks to NC State professor Dr. Gary B. Blank, who first drew our attention to the map + answered some of our questions, we’ve noticed the following:

  • ‘State Hospital’ on the map is Dorothea Dix Park today. To the bottom left of Raleigh’s city center is “State Hospital” — more specifically, Dorothea Dix Hospital, North Carolina’s first mental health hospital. At the time that this soil map was constructed, the hospital was growing into a self-sufficient community featuring patients’ active linen making and farming + staff living in dorms on the hospital campus. You can learn more about the land’s history, from its inhabitance by Native Americans through its transformation into a park, here
  • The Carolina Country Club was Raleigh Country Club. Nearby Beaverdam Creek on the map, “Raleigh Country Club” is listed.  What we know today as The Carolina Country Club had just opened four years before the map was created in 1910. The original building would burn down in 1919, then again in 1948 — the building as we know it today has existed since 1993.
  • No Boone’s Pond or Lake Boone. A piece of Raleigh history is missing from both 1914 and today — Boone’s Pond, a lake created to dam southwest Beaverdam Creek at Cambridge Road. The man-made lake was once a thriving wetland, but the marsh was filled after the dam was breached in the 1970’s and became Lake Boone Trail. 

What else do you notice on the map?