Virginia-North Carolina Boundary

a portion of the Virginia-North Carolina border became the Virginia-Tennessee border when that state was created in 1796
a portion of the Virginia-North Carolina border became the Virginia-Tennessee border when that state was created in 1796
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Bathymetric and Digital Elevation Models

The Virginia-North Carolina border was resolved in two major joint survey efforts in 1728 and 1749, after an earlier effort produced no results.

The first joint Virginia/Carolina survey effort to define the boundary was in 1710, but it was a total failure. The Virginians blamed the North Carolinians for blocking the effort before any boundaries were surveyed, accusing Edward Moseley of seeking to advance his private land speculations during the process. The North Carolina commissioners claimed the instruments brought by the Virginians were unacceptably inaccurate, and 18 years later a different group of Virginia surveyors agreed with that assessment.

The survey in 1728 succeeded in defining the boundary separating the two colonies from the Atlantic Ocean to a point 237 miles west. The most prominent member of that effort was William Byrd II, who documented what was an adventure for him in a highly-opinioned history of the survey.

In 1749, the father of Thomas Jefferson and his partner, Peter Fry, worked with two North Carolina surveyors. They pushed the boundary the last 90 miles westward into the Tennessee River watershed. They stopped in the Blue Ridge near the watershed divide between the New-Tennessee rivers, defining what still remains the southeastern corner of Virginia-North Carolina.

Edward Mosely, one of the North Carolina commissioners during the 1728 survey, created a map in 1733 that did not indicate clearly where the surveyors stopped
Edward Mosely, one of the North Carolina commissioners during the 1728 survey, created a map in 1733 that did not indicate clearly where the surveyors stopped
Source: North Carolina Maps, A New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina drawn from the Original of Colo. Mosely's (1737)

A third survey effort to survey the boundary further west in 1779-1780 was another failure, at least regarding the North Carolina portion.

Surveyors from Virginia and North Carolina split up and defined separate lines two miles apart across the Holston River watershed, and only the Virginia surveyors moved on to reach the Tennessee River. By the time Virginia agreed to adopt a compromise boundary, the land west of the Blue Ridge was part of Tennessee rather than North Carolina.

Fry-Jefferson map showing Virginia-North Carolina boundary, from Atlantic Ocean west to Roanoke River (showing notch where boundary line was adjusted at Nottoway River in 1728
Fry-Jefferson map showing Virginia-North Carolina boundary, from Atlantic Ocean west to Roanoke River (showing notch where boundary line was adjusted at Nottoway River in 1728)
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1751

 - eastern section of VA/NC boundary
Fry-Jefferson map showing Virginia-North Carolina boundary, from Roanoke River to Dan River (showing Peters Creek where 1749 survey started)

Virginia-North Carolina boundary, as extended in 1749 west to a tributary of the Holston River near modern-day Damascus, Virginia
Virginia-North Carolina boundary, as extended in 1749 west to a tributary of the Holston River near modern-day Damascus, Virginia
Fry-Jefferson credit to 1728 surveyors
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. (drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1751)


When English colonists first attempted to settle in North America, they arrived in what is now Roanoke Island in North Carolina. Those first settlers discovered the area was known as "Wingandacoa" by the current residents - but the English soon decided to call the place Virginia, after the supposedly "virgin" Queen Elizabeth.1

Originally, all of modern-day North Carolina was included in Virginia in the three different colonial charters granted for the original colony. When the new colony of North Carolina was created and granted to eight Lords Proprietors - Earl of Clarendon (Edward Hyde), Duke of Albemarle (George Monck), William Craven, John Berkeley, William Berkeley, Anthony Ashley-Cooper (later the Earl of Shaftesbury), George Carteret, and John Colleton) in 1663, the southern edge of Virginia/northern boundary of North Carolina was defined at the latitude of 36 degrees north.2

That boundary was revised in a new 1665 charter to 36 degrees 30 minutes, about 35 miles further north. Moving the border a half-degree to the north gave the Carolinians control over the earliest settlers who had already occupied lands on Albemarle Sound, and eliminated potential conflict over control of shipping through that body of water. At the time, Currituck Inlet offered a path through the barrier islands from the northern tip of Albemarle Sound, but later storms shifted sands and have closed that inlet.

This revision was comparable to the Second Charter of Virginia in 1609, which gave the London Company complete control over the upper Chesapeake Bay. The 1609 charter eliminated any confusion regarding the rights granted to the Plymouth Company in the First Charter of 1606.

Currituck Inlet provided access through the barrier islands in 1770
Currituck Inlet provided access through the barrier islands in 1770
Source: Library of Congress, A compleat map of North-Carolina from an actual survey
Currituck Inlet is now closed
Currituck Inlet is now closed
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

The land south of the Elizabeth River in Virginia and north of Albemarle Sound was relatively inaccessible. There was no easy water access to ship tobacco or other products from that area to the Hampton Roads, so Virginia settlement expanded to the north up the York, Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. In North Carolina, shipping was severely constrained by the lack of reliable passages through the barrier islands. The border region was a backwater, where settlers (including runaway slaves) eked out a meager subsistence living from the land and the hogs they raised.

In 1699, a border dispute involving Crow Island in Albemarle Sound triggered multiple letters between the Carolina and Virginia governors. A Virginia resident had obtained an order from a Princess Anne court regarding a lawsuit against a Carolina resident, and based on that court order Virginia officials seized property in Carolina.

Carolina officials then took an official from Virginia into custody. The Carolinians claimed that officials from Princess Anne County (now the City of Virginia Beach) in Virginia were ignoring not only the border when collecting taxes, but even the legitimate existence of Carolina as a separate colony.3

Crow Island is now part of Currituck National Wildlife Refuge
Crow Island is now part of Currituck National Wildlife Refuge
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

The London officials on the Board of Trade, from across the Atlantic Ocean, advised the governor of Virginia in 1700:4

We have considered all you write and the papers you refer to, relating to the fixing of the boundaries between Virginia and North Carolina... take care that those who have settled any lands in those confines upon Virginia Patents be protected against the people of Carolina and that you assert his Maj. right against their encroachments and suffer no innovation therein untill those Boundaries come to be finally settled & determined

During the following decade, the Virginia and Carolina governments wrote reports to the Board of Trade that resemble the complaints of young children asking an adult to resolve their conflict. Virginia even sponsored a secret survey to determine if the mouth of the Meherrin River was at 36 degrees 30 minutes, and how locating the line would affect existing property owners.5

In 1710, the governors of Virginia and Carolina appointed surveyors (plus members of the gentry to serve as commissioners, who would represent each colony's interests during the surveys) to mark the northern boundary line. That line was defined clearly in the 1665 Carolina charter:6

the north end of Currituck river or inlet, upon a strait westerly line to Wyonoak creek, which lies within or about the degrees of thirty-six and thirty minutes, northern latitude; and so west, in a direct line, as far as the South-Seas

not every mapmaker acknowledged that the Virginia-North Carolina border was a straight line based on latitude, rather than natural features
not every mapmaker acknowledged that the Virginia-North Carolina border was a straight line based on latitude, rather than natural features
Source: Library of Congress, Carolina by Herman Moll (1732)

However, the 1710 attempt to survey and mark the Virginia-Carolina boundary was a complete failure. The commissioners agreed on nothing, so no useful boundary lines were surveyed.

Based on testimony by local residents, the Virginia commissioners decided that the creek known as Wyonoak/Weyanoak/Weycocon/Wicocon was the location identified in the 1665 charter. Carolina's commissioners disagreed. They argued that the Native Americans for whom the Weyanoak was named had moved around, and the line should run due west to intersect the mouth of the Nottoway River. The North Carolina surveyors claimed that if the Virginia approach was adopted, the border would move 15 miles south of the 36° 30' line of latitude.

territory most affected by disputed location of Wyonoak/Weyanoak/Weycocon/Wicocon vs. Nottoway rivers
territory most affected by disputed location of Wyonoak/Weyanoak/Weycocon/Wicocon vs. Nottoway rivers
Source: National Atlas

The Virginia surveyors may have brought an inaccurate quadrant, or may have been inadequately trained to use their equipment. They claimed the mouth of the Nottoway River was at 37° latitude and all the blame for the failed 1710 survey could be assigned to one North Carolina official.

The Virginians claimed that Edward Moseley "started all the captious Arguments and Exceptions that could be." The Virginians also objected to the local witnesses recruited by the North Carolinians. Those witnesses swore that the Nottoway River was traditionally known as Weyanoak Creek, so the boundary line should be located at the mouth of the Nottoway River rather than further south. The Virginians claimed that Moseley misrepresented the statements in his documentation, that those locals were not honest, and that there were significant conflicts of interest that affected the testimony:7

Their Witnesses are all very ignorant men & most of them men of ill fame that have run away from Virginia & some of them concerned in Interest & we plainly discover several of them did not understand what they swore in their Affidavits & we observe that all of them contradict themselves or one another.

The Virginia commissioners accused the Carolinians of deliberately sabotaging the survey effort by interfering in testimony regarding the historic location of "Wyonoak" creek, and lying about the availability of survey tools that would corroborate the results of the Virginia instruments. The Virginia commissioners surmised that Moseley had patented property that could be across the border in Virginia, while the other North Carolina commissioner (John Lawson) would lose some surveying business if the line was marked.8

if the Virginians had prevailed in defining the identity of Weyanoak Creek and used it as the point of beginning for the 1710 boundary survey, Corolla on the Outer Banks would be in Virginia today
if the Virginians had prevailed in defining the identity of Weyanoak Creek and used it as the point of beginning for the 1710 boundary survey, Corolla on the Outer Banks would be in Virginia today
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

Failure to determine the boundary left the border region as a no-man's-land. Colonial officials were not clear who was authorized to enforce the law, and settlers found it convenient to avoid paying taxes to either colony. Though Virginia and North Carolina agreed not to issue grants of land in the disputed area, North Carolina may have been less strict in its compliance with that deal.

Escaped slaves also took advantage of the lack of law enforcement. In 1728, William Byrd visited with a family that claimed to be free, but he suspected were runaways:9

we came upon a family of mulattoes that called themselves free, though by the shyness of the master of the house, who took care to keep least in sight, their freedom seemed a little doubtful. It is certain many slaves shelter themselves in this obscure part of the world, nor will any of their righteous neighbours discover them.

In 1728, the colonial governors of Virginia and North Carolina agreed to survey the boundary again. That effort started at the Atlantic Ocean, and surveyors went westward until reaching the edge of European settlement beyond the Dan River. William Byrd II wrote about the experience, starting with the challenge of defining the starting point.

The surveyors and commissioners started in February, 1728 at the Atlantic Ocean, at what is now the southeastern corner of Virginia's False Cape State Park. In a repeat of the 1710 survey, the Virginians made a hard-to-substantiate claim at the very beginning. As Byrd reported later in The History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina:10

the first question was, where the dividing line was to begin. This begat a warm debate; the Virginia commissioners contending, with a great deal of reason, to begin at the end of the spit of sand; which was undoubtedly the north shore of Coratuck inlet. But those of Carolina insisted strenuously, that the point of high land ought rather to be the place of beginning, because that was fixed and certain, whereas the spit of sand was ever shifting, and did actually run out farther now than formerly. The contest lasted some hours, with great vehemence, neither party receding from their opinion that night.

Once again Edward Moseley represented North Carolina, this time as both a commissioner and as a surveyor, but he was willing to adapt to the situation. Byrd thought the authority of the Virginia surveyors to proceed independently, if necessary, helped create a willingness on the part of the North Carolina side to compromise.

The next morning they agreed on a starting point. They drove a cedar post into the sand at a location 200 yards further north than the Virginians had proposed the previous day, adjusted their compasses three degrees to account for the variation between magnetic and true north, and started west across the marshes and islands of the Coastal Plain.

a cedar post was drive into the sand at Currituck to mark the starting point of the Dividing Line survey in 1728
a cedar post was drive into the sand at Currituck to mark the starting point of the Dividing Line survey in 1728
Source: Library of Congress, A compleat map of North-Carolina from an actual survey (1770)

At times, according to Byrd, the surveyors walked in mud up to their news, and struggled to find a place to camp overnight where the swampy ground "made a fitter lodging for tadpoles than men." The professional surveyors and their chainmen took the physical difficulties as a challenge, and competed to be the first to march through the uncharted Dismal Swamp. The commissioners chose to bypass that part of the survey and traveled around the edge to the other side. It took several days for the surveyors to emerge, starving and exhausted from the crossing of the Dismal.

Eight years earlier in 1720, two North Carolinians had reported to the Board of Trade in London that the local population was so rough that the territory near Dismal Swamp should be declared part of Virginia in order to establish colonial authority:11

this place is the receptacle of all the vagabouns & runaways of the main land of America for which reason and for their entertaining Pirates they are justly contemned by their neighbours, for which reason and that they may be under good Government and be made usefull to the rest of his Majesty's Collonys it would be proper to joyn the same again to Virginia

In 1728, William Byrd II also found little reason to respect the inhabitants, commenting:12

they are devoured by mosquitoes all the summer, and have agues every spring and fall, which corrupt all the juices of their bodies, give them a cadaverous complexion, and besides a lazy, creeping habit, which they never get rid of.

The land in the southeastern corner of Virginia/northeastern corner of North Carolina was productive, but inaccessible to shipping from Europe due to the barrier islands. Byrd commented on both the geography and how the survey would impact the landowners:13

It would be a valuable tract of land in any country but North Carolina, where, for want of navigation and commerce, the best estate affords little more than a coarse subsistence...

The line cut two or three plantations, leaving part of them in Virginia, and part of them in Carolina. This was a case that happened frequently, to the great inconvenience of the owners, who were therefore obliged to take out two patents and pay for a new survey in each government...

The line cut William Spight's plantation in two, leaving little more than his dwelling house and orchard in Virginia. Sundry other plantations were split in the same unlucky manner, which made the owners accountable to both governments. Wherever we passed we constantly found the borderers laid it to heart if their land was taken into Virginia: they chose much rather to belong to Carolina, where they pay no tribute, either to God or to Caesar. Another reason was, that the government there is so loose, and the laws are so feebly executed, that, like those in the neighbourhood of Sidon formerly, every one does just what seems good in his own eyes.

After reaching the Blackwater and Nottoway rivers, it was clear that the key 1710 claim by the Virginia commissioners was not correct. The Nottoway River would be the "Wyonoak creek" referenced in the 1665 charter, not the Wiccacon River that flowed into the Chowan River much further south.

According to the instructions issued by governors Spottswood and Eden in 1716 for the resolution of the boundary issue, after encountering the Blackwater River the surveyors moved half a mile south to the confluence with the Nottoway River (the start of the Chowan River) and then began surveying straight to the west again.

in 1728 the Virginia and North Carolina surveyors moved south to the confluence of the Nottoway and Blackwater rivers, but that adjustment still resulted in a boundary located slightly north of the 36 degrees 30.5 minutes line of latitude
in 1728 the Virginia and North Carolina surveyors moved south to the confluence of the Nottoway and Blackwater rivers, but that adjustment still resulted in a boundary located slightly north of the 36 degrees 30.5 minutes line of latitude
Source: East Carolina University, New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina (1733)

The confluence was identified as being at 36 degrees 30.5 minutes - slightly north of the line defined in the 1665 charter. Even though the surveyors moved south to the confluence with the Blackwater, North Carolina received a small amount of additional land as the survey headed west again. The instructions from the governors had directed that the surveyors use specific natural features (such as the confluence) rather than the mathematical lines of latitude to mark the border.

After completing over 70 miles of surveying to the Meherrin River, the party took a break between April-September 1728. According to William Byrd II's description of the September-October survey effort, on good days they could mark 7-8 miles of surveyed line, but on other days covered only 4 miles.14

the confluence of the Nottoway River with the Blackwater River shaped the location of the Virginia-North Carolina boundary
the confluence of the Nottoway River with the Blackwater River shaped the location of the Virginia-North Carolina boundary
Source: Library of Congress, A new & accurate map of the provinces of North & South Carolina, Georgia &c. Drawn from late surveys and regulated by astronl. observatns (1752)

The Carolina commissioners and surveyors participated for only two weeks in the Fall, 1728 effort. By that time, they claimed to have extended the survey well beyond existing settlement, but the Virginians felt settlement would soon extend to the region. Over the protests of the Carolinians, the Virginians continued the survey - even after they ran out of liqour, which appeared to have been a major element in keeping everyone mellow despite the rough conditions. At the Dan River, the Virginia commissioners and surveyors finally spotted the Blue Ridge in the distance.

They crossed Matrimony Creek (according to Byrd, "called so by an unfortunate married man, because it was exceedingly noisy and impetuous"), and pushed on until they ran out of forage for the horses and wild game for the men. By October 26, 1728, the surveyors' had made their last blaze, on a red oak near Peters Creek (a tributary of the Dan River in modern Patrick County).15

According to their calculations, the expedition had traveled 237 miles west from the cedar post planted at the starting point on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, and 64 miles past the point where the Carolina commissioners had left.16

Byrd's party considered returning home by riding north to the headwaters of the James River. That would have enabled them to determine if the Sharantow (Shenandoah) stretched south all the way to the Roanoke River, and if a lake was at the headwaters of the Roanoke, Sheandoah, and "another wide branch of Mississippi" (the New River). The food shortage convinced them to return along the survey line they had just marked, taking a known path rather than exploring the unknown.17

the exact location of the watershed divide separating the headwaters of the Roanoke River from the New River was poorly understood throughout the colonial era (modern Blacksburg area marked by red X)
the exact location of the watershed divide separating the headwaters of the Roanoke River from the New River was poorly understood throughout the colonial era
(modern Blacksburg area marked by red X)
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the British and French dominions in North America, with the roads, distances, limits, and extent of the settlements by John Mitchell (1755)

Byrd was so impressed by the quality of the land along the border, he soon obtained a land grant from the proprietors in North Carolina. Byrd had William Mayo, one of the Virginia surveyors in 1728, mark the limits of his 20,000 acres where the Dan River crosses into Virginia. (Mayo also was one of the surveyors in 1736 for the Fairfax Grant, and Byrd was one of the colony's commissioners for that effort.)

Byrd's grant on Dan River
Byrd's grant on Dan River
Source: William Byrd II, The Westover manuscripts: containing the history of the dividing line betwixt Virginia and North Carolina:
A journey to the land of Eden, A.D. 1736: and A progress to the mines
(p. 121)

when Edward Moseley produced his map in 1733, he showed William Byrd's grant but indicated it was located on the Fitzwilliam River, named after fellow North Carolina survey commissioner Richard Fitzwilliam
when Edward Moseley produced his map in 1733, he showed William Byrd's grant but indicated it was located on the Fitzwilliam River, named after fellow North Carolina survey commissioner Richard Fitzwilliam
Source: Source: A New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina by Edward Mosely, 1733

In 1749, a new survey extended the surveyed Virginia-North Carolina boundary 90 miles further to the west. Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson were Virginia's commissioners and surveyors, while North Carolina appointed William Churton and Daniel Weldon to represent that colony in defining the boundary in 1749.

At the time of that 1749 survey, Fry was the surveyor for Albemarle County and former professor of mathmatics at William and Mary. He had been a commissioner for Virginia during the 1746 survey of the Fairfax Grant line between the headspring of the Rapidan River to the headspring of the Potomac River, the "back line" that cut straight through the Shenandoah Valley to mark the southwestern edge of Lord Fairfax's territory.

Jefferson was the former surveyor of Goochland County, and had completed the survey of the Northern Neck that defined the boundaries of Lord Fairfax's land. He ended up technically as Fry's assistant when Goochland County was divided and Albemarle County was created. The two operated as partners during the survey of the North Carolina-Virginia border, and later ensuring the production of several versions of a map of Virginia during the 1750's.18

The four surveyors started where the survey of the "dividing line" had stopped 21 years earlier at Peters Creek. Their 1749 survey stopped after 90 miles at Steep Rock Creek, southeast of modern-day Damascus and about two miles from the Holston River.

Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson surveyed the Virginia-North Carolina border in 1749 from Peters Creek west to Steep Rock Creek
Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson surveyed the Virginia-North Carolina border in 1749 from Peters Creek west to "Steep Rock Creek"
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

Finding the end point of that survey today is not simple. That point is not part of the current boundaries between Virginia, North Carolina, or Tennessee. The names of the small streams have changed over time; no "Steep Rock Creek" appears on modern maps or in the USGS Geographic Names Information System.

It appears "Steep Rock Creek" is the stream now called Laurel Creek in Tennessee, while the "Laurel Creek" on Fry and Jefferson's map of Virginia is now called Big Horse Creek in North Carolina.

Steep Rock Creek is known as Laurel Creek in Tennessee today (blue indicates how modern stream names correlate to 1749 stream names)
Steep Rock Creek is known as Laurel Creek in Tennessee today (blue indicates how modern stream names correlate to 1749 stream names)
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina.

A regional historian, Lewis Preston Summers, has suggested that the 1749 survey stopped at what today is known as Beaverdam Creek. If so, the end point may well be on a small island located just upstream of the Backbone Rock, a distinctive spur ridge of Holston Mountain that forces the creek to make a sharp bend. The site is in Backbone Rock Recreation Area, a part of Cherokee National Forest.

However, Summers was inconsistent in his identification of the end point. Two pages earlier in the same publication he said:19

The southern boundary of Virginia, extending from Steep Rock creek, now the Laurel Fork of the Holston River...

Lewis Preston Summers suggested a century ago that Steep Rock Creek could be modern-day Beaverdam Creek, rather than Laurel Creek in Tennessee - if so, the 1749 survey would have followed the red line
Lewis Preston Summers suggested a century ago that Steep Rock Creek could be modern-day Beaverdam Creek, rather than Laurel Creek in Tennessee - if so, the 1749 survey would have followed the red line
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

Today the western corner of Virginia/North Carolina is located on the watershed divide which separates Big Horse Creek (which drains into the New River) and Valley Creek (which drains into the Holston and ultimately the Tennessee River). The end of that line is not at the edge of a creek, so the far western tip of the 1749 survey no longer defines the border.

the current Virginia-North Carolina boundary ends on the watershed divide between Valley Creek (in the Tennessee River watershed) and Big Horse Creek (in the New River watershed)
the current Virginia-North Carolina boundary ends on the watershed divide between Valley Creek (in the Tennessee River watershed) and Big Horse Creek (in the New River watershed)
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

the modern Virginia-North Carolina border does not include the very last part of the Fry and Jefferson survey, ending at Steep Rock Creek (indicated here as modern Laurel Creek, rather than Beaverdam Creek further west)
the modern Virginia-North Carolina border does not include the very last part of the Fry and Jefferson survey, ending at Steep Rock Creek (indicated here as modern Laurel Creek, rather than Beaverdam Creek further west)
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

Why was a survey justified in 1749? British officials in London wanted a better understanding of the shrinking gap between the colonies and French exploration in the Ohio River valley, but the internal-to-the-colony driver for a survey was land speculation and population growth in southwestern Virginia. That is why the General Assembly funded a survey of the southern boundary, rather than an exploration of the Ohio River and lands to the west.

In 1745 Virginia colonial officials gave the Greenbrier Company a 100,000 acre land grant in the valley of the Greenbrier River. The Ohio Company organized in 1747 to speculate in lands near the Forks of the Ohio, beyond the western edge of the Fairfax Grant. In 1749 that Ohio Company received a grant from the Governor's Council for up to 500,000 acres. It helped that the president of the Council (Thomas Lee) and the governor (Lord Dinwiddie) were both members of the Ohio Company and would gain person profits from their governmental actions; conflicts of interest regarding public office and private benefit were common in the colonial era.

In the same year, the Loyal Land Company obtained a grant for 800,000 acres. To avoid conflict with the Greenbrier Company and the Ohio Company, the Loyal Land Company focused its land speculation in the trans-Allegheny territory south of the Ohio River, and away from the valley of the Greenbrier River.

The Ohio Company had to recruit 100 people to move onto its lands within seven years. That company negotiated a peace treaty with the Iroquois and Shawnee at Loggstown in 1752 to facilitate settlement in the Ohio River valley. The Loyal Land Company had to submit surveys within four years to gain title to land, but settlement was not mandated and the company negotiated no separate treaties with Iroquois, Shawnee, or Cherokee.

Clarifying the Virginia-North Carolina boundary was more important to the Loyal Land Company. Its 800,0000 acre grant triggered the 1749 boundary survey, because the surveyed land must be located north of Virginia's southern boundary:20

Leave is given them to take up and survey Eight Hundred Thousand Acres of Land in one or more Surveys, beginning on the Bounds between this Colony and North Carolina, and running to the Westward and to the North so as to include the said Quantity, and they are allowed four Years Time to survey and pay Rights for the same, upon Return of the Plans to the Secretary's Office.

Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson were both members of the Loyal Land Company. Their work with the North Carolina surveyors was to the benefit of the colonial governments, but defining the boundary was also a key part of the Loyal Land Company's efforts to make a profit by selling land.

Thomas Walker, another leading member of the company, explored southwestern Virginia in 1750 beyond the point where the 1749 survey stopped. Walker traveled through Cumberland Gap and identified the high potential for surveying and selling parcels in the Kentucky region.

after passing through Cumberland Gap (white X) in 1750, Thomas Walker discovered the Loyal Land Company would be able to find rich, level bottomland north of the 36° 30' line of latitude (red line)
after passing through Cumberland Gap (white X) in 1750, Thomas Walker discovered the Loyal Land Company would be able to find rich, level bottomland north of the 36° 30' line of latitude (red line)
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

The French and Indian War temporarily limited demand for purchasing lands from any of the land companies with claims in the trans-Allegheny region. The French were decisively defeated in North America by 1760, but conflict with Native Americans continued for several more years.

The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the Seven Years War/French and Indian War and defined a new western edge for Virginia. Prior to the treaty, London officials supported Virginia's claim under the Second Charter of 1609 that the colony extended to the Pacific Ocean.

Since the 1609 charter, the extent of the colony of Virginia had been limited on the north to the 40° line of latitude by the charter for New England (at least west of the Illinois River), and on the south to the 36° 30' line of latitude by the 1665 grant to the proprietors of North Carolina. There was no boundary on the western edge of the Virginia colony until reaching the Southern seas, if one accepted that in 1609 James I had the authority to determine land ownership in perpetuity on that portion of the North American continent.

In the 1763 treaty, France agreed to transfer its land claims west of the Mississippi River to Spain. England recognized Spanish authority over the Louisiana Territory, and the Mississippi River became the new western border of Virginia.

Virginia's tenuous claim to lands west of the Mississippi River (shown here in John Mitchell's 1755 map) were abandoned by English officials who negotiated the Treaty of Paris in 1763
Virginia's tenuous claim to lands west of the Mississippi River (shown here in John Mitchell's 1755 map) were abandoned by English officials who negotiated the Treaty of Paris in 1763
Source: Library of Congress, John Mitchell, A map of the British and French dominions in North America, with the roads, distances, limits, and extent of the settlements

Lands west of the Mississippi River had little of no value to Virginia-based land speculators. The colonial population was still too low to create demand for that territory, so far away.

On the other hand, the Proclamation of 1763 had a quick impact in Williamsburg and plantation houses east of the Blue Ridge. King George III prohibited settlement across the watershed divides that separated rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean from the Ohio, New, and Tennessee rivers:21

no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of our other Colonies or Plantations in America [...may] grant Warrants of Survey, or pass Patents for any Lands beyond the Heads or Sources of any of the Rivers which fall into the Atlantic Ocean from the West and North West...

The proclamation was intended to stop colonial settlement in most of the Ohio River watershed. Officials in London hoped that blocking migration to the west of the proclamation line would reduce the number of hostile Native American-settler interactions, minimizing the cost of maintaining peace in North America after the French and Indian War. If it had been implemented as envisioned in London, there would have been no need to define the Virginia-North Carolina colonial boundary west of Steep Rock Creek.

The Proclamation of 1763 blocked colonial dreams of military success against France being followed by greater access to western lands. It took colonial leaders, including some appointed by the king, several years to find ways around the ban on settling in the Mississippi River watershed.

Several treaties finally modified the ban and authorized settlement, but the proclamation delayed the ability of settlers to obtain legal title to lands along the Virginia-Carolina border and constrained the profits of the speculators. The Loyal Land Company needed surveys so parcels could be sold as the population moved west, but King George blocked their efforts in 1763.

the northern border of North Carolina-Virginia was left undefined for 30 years after the Fry and Jefferson stopped at Steep Rock Creek - and full implementation of the Proclamation Line of 1763 would have eliminated any need to extend it further
the northern border of North Carolina-Virginia was left undefined for 30 years after the Fry and Jefferson stopped at Steep Rock Creek - and full implementation of the Proclamation Line of 1763 would have eliminated any need to extend it further
Source: Library of Congress, A new and accurate map of North Carolina in North America (1779)

The land speculators in the Ohio Company, Greenbrier Company, and Loyal Land Company were politically-powerful members of the gentry who ensured that colonial officials did not support the proclamation. On the frontier itself, some settlers had already carved out farms in some areas such as Sapling Grove (modern-day Bristol) that became off-limits according to the Proclamation Line of 1763.

After obtaining their grant, members of the Loyal Land Company were particularly interested in clarifying the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina. The 1749 survey stopped at the Blue Ridge, but the company expected to make its profits from lands further to the west. As the speculators achieved their goal of overcoming the limits in the Proclamation of 1763 through new treaties with Native American tribes in 1768 and 1770, pushing the boundary further west became of greater interest.

John Collet's 1770 map of North Carolina simply extended the 1749 boundary westward in a straight line
John Collet's 1770 map of North Carolina simply extended the 1749 boundary westward in a straight line
Source: University of North Carolina, A Compleat map of North-Carolina from an actual survey by John Collet (1770)

Settlers who actually lived on the border may have been less interested in the exact location of boundary lines adopted by officials in Williamsburg or London. Many of the earliest frontier settlers were willing to build simple shelters, plant crops, and raise families without filing official surveys at a county courthouse and purchasing legal ownership. "Corn rights" (planting corn, or marking trees with a blaze using a hatchet) established a claim. If someone like a representative of the Loyal Land Company demanded that a squatter pay for use of the land, then at least the squatter had been able to select the best site in the area. Otherwise, court filings cost money and formal land purchases could trigger collection of taxes.

In 1768 the western limits of authorized settlement were extended through the Treaty of Hard Labor with the Cherokee, and then again two years later with the Cherokee in the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber.

The Treaty of Hard Labor defined a new boundary north from the South Carolina border to a site in the Blue Ridge (later named Mount Tryon after the North Carolina governor), then northeast in a straight line to the lead mines of John Chiswell near modern-day Wytheville on I-81, and finally in a straight line northwest to the mouth of the Kanawha River. Existing settlements on the New River, including Ingles Ferry and Dunkard Bottom near modern-day Radford, were placed on the Virginia side of the boundary.

the 1768 Treaty of Hard Labor defined the edge of colonial settlement vs. the Cherokee Hunting Grounds, by drawing a line north from a site near South Carolina to Chiswell's Mine and then directly to the mouth of the Kanawha River
the 1768 Treaty of Hard Labor defined the edge of colonial settlement vs. the Cherokee Hunting Grounds, by drawing a line north from a site near South Carolina to Chiswell's Mine and then directly to the mouth of the Kanawha River
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the country between Albemarle Sound, and Lake Erie, comprehending the whole of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Pensylvania, with parts of several other of the United States of America (1787)

The 1768 Treaty of Hard Labor did not legitimize the settlers already living southwest of the line on the Holston River. Two years later, that problem was solved for some of the colonists by the official Treaty of Lochaber in 1770. It drew a line westward from the Blue Ridge at the 36° 30' line of latitude to a point on the Holston River, stopping six miles upstream (east) of the Long Island of the Holston, and then went north to the mouth of the Kanawha River.

the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber authorized settlement on lands that were north of the Virginia-North Carolina boundary (extended to Holston River) and east of a line between the Holston River to the mouth of the Kanawha River
the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber authorized settlement on lands that were north of the Virginia-North Carolina boundary (extended to Holston River) and east of a line between the Holston River to the mouth of the Kanawha River
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina

There were unofficial negotiations by colonial officials with the Cherokees after concurring with the Treaty of Lochaber, reportedly after generous distribution of rum. The unofficial deal expanding the territory relinquished by the Cherokee was endorsed by colonial officials, but not the official negotiator appointed by the Board of Trade in London.

That post-treaty deal moved the northern boundary on the Ohio River downstream from the mouth of the Kanawha River to the mouth of the Kentucky River, a shift of over 150 miles further west. The change substantially increased the acreage surrendered by the Cherokee, and increased the lands available for Virginia speculators such as the Loyal Land Company to survey and patent - but clear title to that land was not achieved by negotiating with just the Iroquois and Cherokee.22

treaties in 1768 and 1770 expanded the territory controlled by Virginia, while reducing the extent of the Cherokee Hunting Grounds
treaties in 1768 and 1770 expanded the territory controlled by Virginia, while reducing the extent of the Cherokee Hunting Grounds
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix had extinguished whatever claims the Iroquois made to the land south of the Ohio River and west to the Tennessee River. The 1768 and 1770 treaties with the Cherokee addressed that group's claims to much of the same land south of the Ohio River. However, the treaties did not consider claims to those same lands by other Native Americans such as the Shawnee.

Their major towns were located north of the Ohio River but who claimed rights to much of the territory on the south side. Shawnee claims eastward to the Virginia settlements in the Shenandoah Valley were demonstrated by raids during the French and Indian War, including the seizure of Mary Draper Ingles on the New River near modern-day Blacksburg.

North Carolina made no effort to establish a local government in the territory that had been ceded by the Cherokee under the 1768 Treaty of Hard Labor because all of that territory was believed to be within the boundaries of Virginia. The 1770 Treaty of Lochaber extended the dividing line between the colonists and Cherokee westward to the Holston River, extending the 1749 boundary by following what was believed to be the 36° 30' line of latitude.

Land north of the Holston River, in the area authorized by the Treaty of Lochaber, was considered to be part of Virginia. The survey of the new dividing line separating Cherokee lands and Virginia, as defined in the 1770 treaty, was the responsibility of Virginia. Marking the boundary defined by the Treaty of Lochaber was not a joint boundary survey done by Virginia together with the colony of North Carolina.

Thomas Jefferson indicated the southern boundary of Washington County, Virginia extended to the spot on the Holston River six miles east of Long Island as defined in the Treaty of Lochaber, before going due north towards the mouth of the Kanawha River
Thomas Jefferson indicated the southern boundary of Washington County, Virginia extended to the spot on the Holston River six miles east of Long Island as defined in the Treaty of Lochaber, before going due north towards the mouth of the Kanawha River
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the country between Albemarle Sound, and Lake Erie, comprehending the whole of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Pensylvania, with parts of several other of the United States of America (1787)

John Donelson was tasked to mark the edge of Cherokee-Virginia territory. He was the surveyor for Pittsylvania County and a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Like so many other surveyors and commissioners overseeing surveys on frontier lands, including William Byrd II and George Washington, Donelson gained a unique understanding of the area and became a land speculator on the frontier. (His daughter later Rachel married Andrew Jackson, but died before Jackson was elected president.)

The 1771 Donelson Line extended the 1749 boundary line of Fry, Jefferson and their North Carolina counterparts westward to the Holston River. That section of the Donelson Line was treated as the Virginia-North Carolina boundary, and as the southern edge of Botetourt County.

In 1772 Virginia subdivided Botetourt County and created Fincastle County. Creating that new county meant residents living on the Holston River north of the Donelson Line were obliged (at least in theory) to pay taxes for local services and to serve in the Fincastle County militia.

In return, settlers at the far southwestern edge of Virginia could now file surveys and resolve disputes over land titles at a county seat located much closer. The Fincastle county seat was placed at the lead mines owned by Col. John Chiswell on the New River (later known as Austinville), much closer than the old Botetourt county seat on the James River.23

The 1771 survey revealed that Holston River settlements at Reedy Creek were north of Donelson's Line, but Watauga (now Elizabethton, TN), Nolichucky (now Erwin, TN), and Carter's Valley (near Rogersville TN) were clearly south of the Treaty of Lochaber boundary. Those settlements were south of the Virginia boundary as defined by Donelson, and encroached on lands reserved for the Cherokee. The settlements were also located west of all organized county governments in North Carolina that provided land recordation services and official militia protection.

Donelson's Line marking the boundaries defined in the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber went east-west from the end of the Fry-Jefferson survey to the Holston River, then north to the mouth of the Kanawha River
Donelson's Line marking the boundaries defined in the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber went east-west from the end of the Fry-Jefferson survey to the Holston River, then north to the mouth of the Kanawha River
Source: Discover Kingsport, Maps: Kingsport

Rather than move "back into Virginia," the families living on the wrong side of the line concentrated at one place, Watauga, and successfully negotiated with the Cherokee to lease land at that site. The beyond-the-Donelson-Line residents formed the Watauga Association as their local government, separate from both North Carolina and Virginia.

By 1775, a set of speculators led by Colonel Richard Henderson sought to take advantage of the circumstances. The speculators organized as the Transylvania Company and tried to bypass the Virginia government in Williamsburg. The company purchased 20 million acres west of the Kentucky River, which was the edge of settlement permitted by the Cherokee after informal arrangements following the Treaty of Lochaber negotiations.

The Treaty of Sycamore Shoals between the Transylvania Company and the Cherokees involved the 20 million acres between the Kentucky and Cumberland rivers. The deal was clearly inconsistent with the prohibition of private purchases in the Proclamation of 1763. Choosing the Kentucky River as the eastern edge of the Transylvania purchase allowed the Transylvania Company to avoid conflicts with settlers who purchased land after the 1768 Treaty of Hard Labor, the 1770 Treaty of Lochabar, and post-treaty negotiations moving the line of authorized settlement westward to the Kentucky River.

the primary Transylvania Company purchase was located between the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers - and most of that territory was claimed by Virginia under its Second Charter in 1609
the primary Transylvania Company purchase was located between the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers - and most of that territory was already claimed by Virginia under its Second Charter in 1609
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

The Cherokee demonstrated in the 1760's and 1770's that they were willing to abandon lands on their northern edge, the territory in modern-day Kentucky and West Virginia. The plan of the Cherokee chiefs was to move further south, concentrating in settlements on the western edge of South Carolina/Georgia. That area was closer to the rival Creek and Choctaw - but if the colonists chose to migrate into the lands above the Cumberland River, they would stay north of the new Cherokee homeland and conflicts might be minimized.

The Cherokee logic was consistent with the English logic behind the Proclamation of 1763. Separating the Native Americans from the settlers to avoid disputes would be cheaper than war.

The decision to abandon core traditional territory on the Holston River, especially the sale of Long Island to the Transylvania Company, created major conflict within the Cherokee community. A group of Cherokee led by Dragging Canoe opposed the sale. After the leading chiefs agreed to the sale of northern lands the Transylvania Company, Dragging Canoe formed a splinter group that organized attacks on the Watauga settlements and later allied with the British during the American Revolution.

Both Virginia and North Carolina militia responded to Dragging Canoe's attacks, marching to the Holston River and joining in retaliatory raids on Cherokee towns. The Watauga settlers had already petitioned North Carolina to annex them and establish a local government within that state. North Carolina created the Washington District in 1776 and then organized Washington County in 1777, with boundaries extending to the Mississippi River.

the new North Carolina state government created Washington District in 1776 and organized it into Washington County in 1777, to govern the land west of the Blue Ridge
the new North Carolina state government created Washington District in 1776 and organized it into Washington County in 1777, to govern the land west of the Blue Ridge
Source: Newberry Library, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (showing county boundaries in 1777)

A western extension of the Donelson Line and Fry-Jefferson line along the 36° 30' line of latitude was the presumed North Carolina-Virginia boundary in 1777. The boundary, now between states rather than colonies, was stretched west to the Mississippi River but remained unmarked beyond the point where Donelson had stopped in 1771 on the Holston River.

Virginia provided more local government as well in 1777. The eastern gentry in Williamsburg, as well as settlers on the frontier, maneuvered to be certain that Virginia could issue reliable title to lands when approving surveys and patents to those land companies. The gentry was also speculating in land bounties that had been authorized in the Proclamation of 1763 for veterans of the French and Indian War. The bounties were of particular interest to George Washington, who was one of the gentry anticipating how those grants would be claimed.24

The Virginia legislature dissolved Fincastle County in 1776. Lord Dunmore, the last governor of Virginia appointed by the King of England, was a Scottish lord, the Viscount of Fincastle; his son was also named Fincastle. By 1776 rebellious Virginia leaders had forced Dunmore out of office and then eliminated the county whose name had honored Lord Dunmore. (The Botetourt County seat is still called Fincastle, however...)

In 1777 three new local jurisdictions, Montgomery, Washington, and Kentucky counties, replaced Fincastle County. The Holston River settlers were now in Washington County, and could go to the county court at Abingdon to officially establish title to land parcels and resolve legal disputes.25

the Transylvania Company spurred Virginia and North Carolina to create new counties west of the Blue Ridge in 1777
the Transylvania Company spurred Virginia and North Carolina to create new counties west of the Blue Ridge in 1777
Source: Newberry Library, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (showing county boundaries in 1778)

The Transylvania Company threatened Virginia's claim to territory west of the official boundary defined by the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber, starting in 1775. The Transylvania Company hired explorers and surveyors to document their purchase and initiate land sales. Daniel Boone, employed by the company, identified the path for the Wilderness Road from the Holston River through Cumberland Gap.

demand for legal land sales and purchases was the stimulus for surveying boundaries and extending the transportation network through southwestern Virginia
demand for legal land sales and purchases was the stimulus for surveying boundaries and extending the transportation network through southwestern Virginia
Source: National Park Service, Early American Frontier

Virginia and North Carolina officials refused to concede that the Transylvania Company had authority over the land purchased from the Cherokee at the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals. The two states (no longer "colonies" after 1776) maintained their ownership and agreed to survey their shared state boundary to extend the line, going further west of where Fry and Jefferson had stopped in 1749 and Donelson had stopped in 1771.

A mutually-adopted boundary would help each new state assert its claims in the US Congress to land in the Tennessee River watershed. Blocking the Transylvania Company would allow both Virginia and North Carolina to obtain one-time revenue from sale of public land to settlers, and to direct annual taxes from settlers to state-defined county governments.

Complicating the challenge of establishing authority and ownership of western land, the Transylvania Company purchase occurred at the start of the American Revolution. Government operations were severely disrupted by the decision to declare independence and replace the colonial House of Burgesses with a new legislative structure (General Assembly) and to separate the executive, legislative, and judicial responsibilities for the first time in the history of Virginia.

Military failures created even more chaos. In May, 1779, Virginia experienced its first major invasion by the British. Sir George Collier sailed a fleet into the Chesapeake Bay and, with troops led by General Edward Mathew, seized Portsmouth. The British burned the Gosport Navy Yard and raided throughout Hampton Roads.

Nonetheless, in 1779 Virginia officials still found time to organize a survey with North Carolina to define the boundary line west of the Blue Ridge. The decision to launch a new survey when resources for defense were severely limited is a clue to the desire of top leaders in Virginia to facilitate speculation in western lands.

the simple solution for mapmakers after 1749 was to project the Virginia-North Carolina boundary west to the Mississippi River
the simple solution for mapmakers after 1749 was to project the Virginia-North Carolina boundary west to the Mississippi River
Source: Library of Congress, A new map of the western parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina (1778)

The Virginia survey team included Col. Thomas Walker. He was a member of the Loyal Land Company, and would lose a substantial amount of prime land if the Transylvania Company claim was upheld. Col. Richard Henderson was an official commissioner of the North Carolina survey team, and of course might benefit if the survey project was not completed. Conflicts of interest were common, when frontier land was involved...

The survey process required judgment calls using a magnetic compass to determine direction and using a sextant aligned with the sun to determine latitude. If the survey line ran further north than the desired 36° 30' line, too much land would end up in North Carolina. If the line was located south of the 36° 30' latitude line, then Virginia would be enlarged at the expense of North Carolina.

At the start, the surveyors assessed each other's equipment, agreed on what variances would be appropriate for the magnetic compasses used by different surveyors, and concurred that Steep Rock Creek was 329 miles west of Currituck Inlet. Not surprisingly, the North Carolina and Virginia surveyors soon disagreed. Less than two weeks after starting the survey in early September, 1779, one of the Virginia commissioners reported that:26

the Carolina Gentlemen had conceived an Opinion we were too far to the south of the true L[ine]

The two survey teams split up. The North Carolina surveyors angled to the north, while the Virginians defined a different boundary line to the south. The dispute over the Walker and Henderson lines created confusion regarding status of a slice of land two miles wide through the Holston River watershed.

That conflict was not resolved with North Carolina; that state never agreed on a boundary line west of the point where Fry and Jefferson had stopped in 1749. Instead, North Carolina abandoned its efforts to govern the territory west of the Blue Ridge and ceded its land claims to the US Congress.

The first cession involved a corrupt arrangement, with members of the North Carolina legislature obtaining massive land grants and then ceding the land contingent upon Congress guaranteeing those private claims. That triggered a political uproar in North Carolina, while the settlers west of the Blue Ridge organized a new state government independent of North Carolina. The State of Franklin survived several years until North Carolina regained control and finally executed a cession to the US Congress in 1790.27

Congress organized the Southwestern Territory, then accepted the State of Tenneessee into the union in 1796. Virginia's southwestern border beyond the 1749 Fry-Jefferson line was finally resolved with Tennessee through compromises (including an 1802 survey known as the "diamond line") and multiple lawsuits.

the modern North Carolina-Virginia-Tennessee border includes a northeast zig-zag between the end of the Fry-Jefferson survey in 1749 and the start of a compromise diamond line survey in 1802
the modern North Carolina-Virginia-Tennessee border includes a northeast zig-zag between the end of the Fry-Jefferson survey in 1749 and the start of a compromise "diamond line" survey in 1802
Source: USGS, Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) of Grayson 7.5 minute topo quad,
downloaded from University of Virginia Library, Virginia Gazetteer

The Virginia-North Carolina Border East of Currituck Inlet

The far eastern boundary of Virginia-North Carolina, running in the opposite direction from the boundary survey of 1728, extends into the Atlantic Ocean.

Under Federal law defining control of the Outer Continental Shelf, each state owns the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for three miles off the shoreline (measured from the Mean Lower Low Water line). Both the North Carolina and Virginia constitutions define the boundary to be a straight line east of the location where surveyors placed a cedar post in 1728:28

The boundary line between the Commonwealth and North Carolina eastward from the low-water mark of the Atlantic Ocean shall be and remains the line beginning at the intersection with the low-water mark of the Atlantic Ocean and the existing North Carolina-Virginia boundary line; thence due east to the seaward jurisdictional limit of Virginia; such boundary line to be extended on the true 90 degree bearing as far as a need for further delimitation may arise.

The Federal government owns the ocean bottom east of the three mile offshore boundary. Federal agencies manage oil/gas and windpower leases on the Outer Continental Shelf beyond the three mile boundary. Distribution of revenues from Federal leases will be based on the Administrative Boundaries defined by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

That agency defines the Administrative Boundaries based a depiction of the shoreline location known as the National Baseline, which is created the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The National Baseline is determined by using the Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) line on NOAA’s nautical charts, plus straight lines drawn across indentations such as bays and river mouths, and mathematically determines boundaries based on the principle of equidistance.

The administrative boundaries are not based on drawing east-west lines perpendicular to one point on the coast, in contrast to the definition of the Virginia-North Carolina boundary. Instead, the administrative boundary lines are drawn so points will be equidistant from the nearest points on the National Baseline. As a result, North Carolina will receive some revenues from leases that are located in waters north of the Virginia-North Carolina boundary, if the Federal government issues leases next to the state boundary.29

though the extension of the state boundary into the Atlantic Ocean may go directly east-west, the Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Administrative Boundaries are based on the principle of equidistance
though the extension of the state boundary into the Atlantic Ocean may go directly east-west, the Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Administrative Boundaries are based on the principle of equidistance
Source: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Administrative Boundaries

Links

References

1. The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation. Vol. XIII. America. Part II, by Richard Hakluyt, 1589, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25645/25645-h/25645-h.html. See also discussion by Karen Reeds of the first name of Virginia in VA-HIST listserver, 13 February 2009, http://listlva.lib.va.us/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=VA-HIST;RZSo8A;20090213045256-0500 (last checked June 19, 2009)
2. Charter of Carolina, March 24, 1663, The Avalon Project, Yale University, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/nc01.asp (last checked August 19, 2009)
3. Letter from Henderson Walker to Francis Nicholson (July 28, 1699), from "Colonial and State Records of North Carolina," http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0246 (last checked August 19, 2009)
4. Letter from the Board of Trade of England to Francis Nicholson [Extract] (January 4, 1700), from "Colonial and State Records of North Carolina," http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0254 (last checked August 19, 2009)
5. Minutes of the Virginia Governor's Council, June 26, 1705, from "Colonial and State Records of North Carolina," http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0313 (last checked August 19, 2009)
6. Charter of Carolina (June 30, 1665), The Avalon Project, Yale University, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/nc04.asp (last checked August 19, 2009)
7. Minutes of the Virginia Governor's Council, October 24, 1710, from "Colonial and State Records of North Carolina," http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0398; Journal of Philip Ludwell and Nathaniel Harrison during the survey of the North Carolina/Virginia boundary, pp.739-746, 1710 from "Colonial and State Records of North Carolina," http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0397 (last checked August 19, 2009)
8. Journal of Philip Ludwell and Nathaniel Harrison during the survey of the North Carolina/Virginia boundary, 1710, in "Colonial and State Records of North Carolina," pp.739-746, http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0397 (last checked January 22, 2015)
9. Byrd, William II, The Westover Manuscripts: Containing the History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina; A Journey to the Land of Eden, A. D. 1733; and A Progress to the Mines. Written from 1728 to 1736, and Now First Published, p.17 http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/byrd/menu.html (last checked January 22, 2015)
10. Byrd, p.8
11 Report by Joseph Boone and John Barnwell concerning the North Carolina boundaries (November 23, 1720), from "Colonial and State Records of North Carolina," http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr02-0201(last checked August 19, 2009)
12. Byrd, p.23
13. Byrd, p.16-17, p.31
14. "Virginia and North Carolina Boundary Line," http://www.surveyhistory.org/va_&_nc_bounary_line.htm, Surveyors Historical Society, January 1994 (last checked August 19, 2009)
15. Byrd, William II, p.56
16. "Virginia and North Carolina Boundary Line," http://www.surveyhistory.org/va_&_nc_bounary_line.htm, Surveyors Historical Society, January 1994 (last checked August 19, 2009)
17. Byrd, p.63
18. Henry Taliaferro, "Fry and Jefferson Revisited," Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), Volume 34, 2013, http://www.mesdajournal.org/2013/fry-jefferson-revisited/ (last checked January 27, 2015)
19. Lewis Preston Summers, History of Southwest Virginia, 1746-1786; Washington County, 1777-1870, Regional Publishing Company, 1971 (reprint of 1903 version), p. 693, p.695
20. "Dr. Thomas Walker and the Loyal Company," West Virginia Archives and History, http://www.wvculture.org/history/settlement/loyalcompany01.html (last checked January 24, 2015)
21. "The Royal Proclamation - October 7, 1763," The Avalon Project, Yale University, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/proc1763.asp (last checked January 27, 2015)
22. "Treaty Of Hard Labor With Cherokees," from Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark archive, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Virginia Center for Digital History, http://jeffersonswest.unl.edu/archive/view_doc.php?id=jef.00089; "Treaty of Lochaber 1770," from Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark archive, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Virginia Center for Digital History, http://jeffersonswest.unl.edu/archive/view_doc.php?id=jef.00091; "Treaty of Lochaber, South Carolina, 1770," Colonial Period Indian Land Cessions in the American Southeast, TNGenWeb, http://www.tngenweb.org/cessions/colonial2.html (last checked January 24, 2015)
23. William Cecil Pendleton, History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia: 1748-1920, W. C. Hill printing Company, 1920, p.257, http://books.google.com/books?id=KNEz0vNWJG4C (last checked January 26, 2015)
24. "Watauga Association," North Carolina History Project, http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/commentary/98/entry (last checked January 24, 2015)
25. Paul H. Bergeron, Paths of the Past: Tennessee, 1770-1970, University of Tennessee Press, 1979, pp.7-9, https://books.google.com/books?id=HETUSBu1Ey4C (last checked January 24, 2015)
26. "Daniel Smith's Journal (1779-1780)," from Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark archive, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Virginia Center for Digital History, http://jeffersonswest.unl.edu/archive/view_doc.php?id=jef.00050 (last checked January 21, 22015)
27. "Records Relating To Tennessee In The North Carolina State Archives," Archives Information Circular, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources - Office of Archives and History, Number 3, 1968, http://www.ncdcr.gov/Portals/26/PDF/findingaids/Circulars/AIC3_Tennessee2009.pdf (last checked January 25, 2015)
28. "Boundary with North Carolina eastward from low-water mark of Atlantic Ocean," Code of Virginia, Chapter 3.1 - Boundaries of the Commonwealth, https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+1-305; "State Boundaries - Northern lateral seaward boundary," North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 141 Section 8, http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByChapter/Chapter_141.html (last checked January 22, 2015)
29. Meredith A. Westington, Matthew J. Slagel, "U.S. Maritime Zones and the Determination of the National Baseline," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Office of Coast Survey, U.S. Hydro 2007 Conference, http://www.thsoa.org/hy07/11_01.pdf (last checked January 25, 2015)


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