North Carolina was originally a naval stores colony--that is, the blanket of long leaf pines that covered the coastal plane was used by the British Navy for ship's masts and the pine pitch was used to manufacture tar caulking for vessels. The river derives its name from its historic use as a major route for tar-laden barges as they headed to the sea. The city of Tarboro on the banks of the river, as well as the state's official nick name "Tar Heel State" also derive from this history.
Among the towns and cities along its course are Louisburg, Rocky Mount, Tarboro, and Greenville. The village of Old Sparta was formerly an important riverport on the Tar, but has declined in the 20th century.
The river was strongly affected by Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and caused much flooding in the area. The Tar River suffered the worst flooding from the hurricane, exceeding 500-year flood levels along its lower stretches; it crested 24 feet (7.3 m) above flood stage.
A Public Participation GIS Application for Citizen-Based Watershed Monitoring in the Pamlico-Tar River Basin, North Carolina
Aug 01, 2008; Water quality is a serious concern throughout eastern North Carolina due to development pressure, agricultural runoff, and animal...