A Rich Cultural HistoryMill 1970s for website.jpg

The millpond is part of Buffalo Creek, named for the herds of buffalo once seen watering there. Native Americans in the region would have likely lived and hunted along the 

The dam, part earthen and part masonry, dates to the 1820s and is still in place. The mill was removed in the mid-1970s. The dam and remaining foundation of the mill have been designated historic landmarks.

In the 1820s, William Avera operated a 600-acre farm and gristmill with his wife and two children. The family originally lived in a Federal-style house. William’s son, Thomas, grew to be farmer and doctor who later served as a surgeon in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Thomas built an Italianate-style home in the early 1870s, which has been designated a historic landmark, also. The family moved the original Federal-style home to the new home site on Robertson Pond Road, where it still stands today.
Federal-style house.jpeg

Land sales in 1887 and 1914 led to the Robertson family ownership, for which the road and pond are named. The Robertson family farmed the land west of the pond and probably also operated the mill until the 1940s.

In 1960, the Charles Robertson estate was divided into 11 tracts for surviving heirs. The millpond was inherited by Nettie Robertson Fowler, whose family operated a boathouse on the pond in the 1960s, renting wooden boats for fishing.

A Significant Natural Area

The site has been identified by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program as one of 47 significant natural areas in Wake County. The preserve has also been recognized as a Wetland Treasure by the Carolina Wetlands Association. Read this nicefactsheet about the preserve created by them. 

This blackwater cypress-gum swamp is unique this far north and this far west in North Carolina and has many species from the coastal plain present.
    The bases of the cypress trees provide habitat for swamp rose and several coastal plain plants, shrubs and vines, including the coastal fetterbush and sweetspire. In the spring, you can see Virginia blue flag blooming near the boat dock, which is another species found primarily in the coastal plain.

    What is blackwater?

    Blackwater is formed when a river or creek flows through forested swamps or wetlands. As vegetation decays, tannins leach into the water, making a transparent, acidic water that is darkly stained, resembling tea or coffee.
    The blackwater Buffalo Creek flows southeast from Rolesville until it dumps into the Little River near Kenly and then the Neuse River near Goldsboro.

    Robertson Pond is oriented north-south with a maximum depth of approximately 15 feet. It is dominated by medium-aged to mature bald cypress, which form a dense, closed canopy in most areas.

    Animal Species

    The cypress swamp is also habitat for many animals. Common birds include wood and black duck, pileated and downy woodpeckers, prothonotary warbler, screech and great horned owl, great blue heron and more.

    Also look for beaver, muskrat, raccoon, a variety of water snakes, frogs and turtles.

    Fish populations include sawcheek and swamp darters, flier, ironcolor shiner, and mud, bluespotted and pigmy sunfish.

    There are numerous wood duck and prothonotary warbler boxes in the swamp, put in by Dr. Eugene Hester and NCSU students. If you are lucky, you might get to see both of these species along the paddling trail.

    NRID blurb picture - print only.jpgDiscover Nature!

    To fully explore the species found at the preserve, you can print a checklist, search for images and pictures, discover fun facts or listen to sounds in our Natural Resources Inventory Database.

    If you take a picture of animals and plants, we would love to include your sighting in our database. Please email picture to naturepreserve@wakegov.com.