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NC 90: The Forgotten Highway of Caldwell County.


One of North Carolina's highway secrets is the unpaved portion of NC 90 in Caldwell County.  From a point just beyond the curve, seen in the photo above, to an unmarked location in the tiny community of Edgemont, highway 90's last few miles are an unpaved journey through country that is forgotten by many everyday travelers.  Although not in as quite a rugged territory as the mountains of Western North Carolina or some of the peaks just to the north, the unpaved NC 90 does climb from an elevation of approximately 1400 feet at the pavement change to close to 2400 feet in Edgemont.

Although isolated from nearby towns of Lenoir, Blowing Rock, and Boone, this segment does show signs of civilization.  Utility poles and a handful of homesteads mark the route.  Complete with three one lane bridges, unpaved NC 90 runs entirely through Pisgah National Forest and provides access to campsites within the park's boundary.

All photos taken May 2003.
 

Transition from pavement to gravel.  The motorcyclists were forced to turn around.

An early flat piece of NC 90.

A primitive guard rail system

Tighter curves are found closer to Edgemont

NC 90 Curves Downhill in Caldwell County

Yes, there is local traffic on NC 90.

This concrete arch bridge is near Edgemont.

This one lane bridge over Thorps Creek is the longest of the three one lane bridges.

Rocks, drop offs, and other hazards make concentration the top priority of motorists on NC 90.

Lush green scenery surround this gentle S-curve.



  • Steven Duckworth, who took the photos while I drove
  • NC 90 @ NCRoads.com ---Matt Steffora
  • History of Mortimer and Edgemont ---James E. Parks
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