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Lake Phelps facts for kids

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Lake Phelps
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Location Washington / Tyrrell counties, North Carolina, United States
Coordinates 35°46′12″N 76°27′29″W / 35.7701°N 76.4580°W / 35.7701; -76.4580
Primary inflows precipitation
Basin countries United States
Managing agency North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation
Designation State Lake
Surface area 16,600 acres (67 km2)
Average depth 4.5 ft (1.4 m)
Max. depth 9 ft (2.7 m)

Lake Phelps is North Carolina's second largest natural lake. It has a surface area of 16,600 acres (67 km2), and it is located primarily in Washington County on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula between the Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico Sound. The easternmost part of the lake extends into Tyrrell County. An Indian dugout canoe was found in the lake dating back nearly 4,400 years. Other artifacts have been found around the area dating as early as 8,000 B.C.

Its origin has long puzzled scientists. Some say that its origin is underground springs, wave action, wind, a meteor, glacial activity or a peat burn. It is more or less a round shape.

Lake Phelps is named for Josiah Phelps, the first white man to enter its waters. Phelps and another colonial explorer, Benjamin Tarkington, were searching through what was then known as the Great Eastern Dismal or Great Alligator Dismal in 1755. Phelps and Tarkington were part of a group of hunters who entered the swamps in search of game and farmland. The group had become discouraged and were about to leave when Tarkington scaled one of the many trees and spotted the lake a short distance away. Phelps went ahead and ran into the water. As the first in the water he was given the honor of naming the lake.

The lake was established as a North Carolina State Lake in 1929, and it is managed by the adjacent Pettigrew State Park.

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