Ellerbe Creek

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Ellerbe Creek is a mostly-natural waterway in Durham, NC.


The creek appears to originate somewhere just north of I-85; the earliest indication of it on Google Maps is a label and clear signs of a waterway between I-85's Cole Mill Road exit westbound and Croasdale Drive. Its source is presumably somewhere on the other side of Cole Mill Road.

Wikipedia's description notwithstanding, from that point it appears to run (note: I think this is actually describing two different forks of the Creek as if they were the same stream):

  • southeast under I-85, possibly emerging briefly in the stretch of woods in the junction between I-85 and 15-501 bypass
  • through Hillandale Golf Course, crossing under Bellevue Avenue and Hillandale Road
  • under Albany Street, after which it is accompanied by the West Ellerbe Creek Trail for about 2000 feet (through Indian Trail Park to Westover Park)
  • under I-85, accompanied by the pedestrian tunnel which is part of the Trail
  • between Costco and Home Depot
  • under Broad Street (after a turn to the east/right)
  • under North Duke Street, where it is joined a few hundred feet later by the Ellerbe Creek Trail
  • under West Murray Avenue, after which the Trail passes between it and the Durham brontosaurus
  • through the Northgate Dog Park (of which it is the backbone), crossing West Lavender Avenue and exiting under West Club Boulevard
  • through the largely (and somewhat inexplicably) uninhabited triangle of forest bordered by West Club, Farthing Street, and I-85
  • eastward just north of I-85, crossing under North Roxboro Street and Avondale Drive
  • just to the south of the unnamed shopping center at the end of Foushee Street
  • under what appears to be a sewer pipe, just south of a large swamp or lake behind the aforementioned shopping center
  • through a sort of semi-forested industrial wasteland (including another lake/swamp and what appear to be modern ruins) between East Club and Camden Avenue, crossing under Midland Terrace
  • crossing under East Club Boulevard heading northeast
  • through largely undeveloped woods between neighborhoods, crossing under Red Mill Road
  • crossing the path of historic historic Fish Dam Road just north of Redwood Road (where Redwood follows Fish Dam Road's course for about a mile and a half)

...and then ultimately entering Falls Lake, into which it appears to have formed an embankment for a few hundred feed (enough for trees to grow on). It also passes under a railroad trestle before merging with the lake's waters. The embankment


These routes are mostly from looking at the satellite view (and a little bit from memory), and should be checked.

Wikipedia refers to portions of Ellerbe Creek running under Northgate Mall, Ninth Street, Downtown Durham, beneath Durham Athletic Park (DAP), The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), and Duke University East Campus (DUEC); these are presumably tributaries of Ellerbe Creek, although the exact relationship is not clear from the satellite view.

Some tributaries (known or conjectured) which may actually run through those locations include:

  • South Ellerbe Creek (SEC) connects with Ellerbe Creek near the southeast corner of the West Club / Farthing / I-85 triangle. Working upstream, SEC runs:
    • southwest through Old North Durham
    • its course is unclear after the Urban Avenue power station
      • one tributary appears to cross under North Duke Street near West Trinity Avenue
        • this could conceivably continue (upstream) west to originate in or near DUEC
      • another tributary continues south to the Warehouse District, where it could easily run under the DAP
        • the south tributary is almost certainly the stream which is exposed for one block in Central Park
  • another tributary appears to originate somewhere in or near the Green Street / Ninth Street / Hillsborough Road / Carolina Avenue block
    • runs under the intersection of 9th and Green Street and continues more or less diagonally
    • between Green and West Knox, it crosses Iredell Street, Broad Street (a portion is definitely visible from Broad) and probably Clarendon Street
    • It then crosses West Knox (east-west), Sedgefield Street (north-south), Berkeley Street / Englewood Avenue, and then West Club Boulevard
    • After West Club, it forms the backbone of a city park which may have signage indicating the name of the waterway at that point.
    • It then crosses under Guess Road and vanishes under Northgate Mall
    • Tentatively, it re-emerges just north of Northgate, crosses under I-85, then heads east following the north side of I-85 (possibly not its original course) until it meets South Ellerbe just southeast of West Club -- or possibly it is buried all the way from Northgate through the I-85 cloverleaf intersection and finally emerges in the northeast quadrant of that intersection. The swampy area inside and east of the northeast loop may be connected to, or a remnant of, the creek's passage through that area.