North Carolina Highway 181
|Beatrice Cobb Highway|
|Maintained by NCDOT|
|Length:||36.2 mi (58.3 km)|
|Existed:||1928 – present|
|South end:||US 64 / US 70 / NC 18 in Morganton|
| NC 183 near Jonas Ridge
US 221 in Pineola
|North end:||NC 194 in Newland|
The route serves as the main road from Morganton to Northern Burke County then on towards Newland in Avery County. The first 12 miles of the road appears as a regular back road highway, going by homes and shrubbery farms. At Brown Mountain Beach Road, the sharp bend of the highway starts the climb up through the Pisgah National Forest to Jonas Ridge. This section of the highway (13 miles) features multiple curves (some tight with speed warnings), multiple passing lanes (five up, two down, one turnoff down), and mostly undeveloped wooded lands. Before Jonas Ridge is the Brown Mountain Overlook, where stories of phantom lights on the mountain can be seen from the location. After Jonas Ridge, the highway goes parallel with the Blue Ridge Park for a mile before passing over it. In Pineola, the highway overlaps with US 221 for almost three miles before splitting in Linville. The last section of the highway goes by several hills and mountains covered by Frasier furs before entering the Newland city limits and ending at Pineola Street.
One unique feature of the highway is the use of mile markers, which only appear between before Brown Mountain Beach Road and Jonas Ridge (mile markers 12-25). An oddity for a two-lane surface road in the state; however, the reason why they exist is simply to assist police and rescue crews to better locate accidents or lost hikers along the winding section of the highway.
Majority of the route shares with either NC Bike Route 2 (Mountains to Sea) or NC Bike Route 6 (Piedmont Spur). Because it mostly overlaps with a state bike route, the road has wider paved shoulders compared to other roads in the area. Because of these extra features, it is not uncommon to find several bikes and motorcycles riding along the highway on any given nice day.
Pisgah Loop Scenic Byway is a 47-mile (76 km) loop byway, not recommended for recreational vehicles and bus, as well as four-wheel drive required for unpaved portions. NC 181 makes up the eastern section of the byway (17.5 miles (28.2 km)), it is noted for its history as the same route the Kirk's Raiders used to make a successful attack on Confederate Army Camp Vance, outside Morganton, during the Civil War. It is also noted for scenic views of the surrounding mountains and access to various trails along the route. Other roads and highways that make-up the loop are: NC 183, Old NC Highway 105 (S.R. 1238, the entire road is unpaved), NC 126, and Fish Hatchery Road (S.R. 1254 & 1240).
The highway is known as both NC 181 and Beatrice Cobb Highway; but it also has lesser known names that it uses along the route.
- Dr. Mary Martin Sloop Highway - official North Carolina name of US 221; between Pineola and Linville, where NC 181 overlaps.
- S B Lacey Jr Highway - official North Carolina name of NC 181, between Linville and Newland.
Beatrice Cobb Highway
Beatrice Cobb (1888-1951) started her career early as a teacher and writer. In 1916, she became editor and publisher of the Morganton Herald; in 1922 she was chosen secretary of the North Carolina Press Association by her peers. Eventually her journalism clout in the state became also political clout; she was a Democratic National Committeewoman and an adviser on allocations to federal agencies in the state during the New Deal era. She received numerous awards during her career and an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina. The entire highway, from Morganton to Newland, is officially named in her honor.
Established in 1928, NC 181 begins as a new primary routing between Morganton and Pineola, then west to NC 194 near Crossnore. A year later, it was extended southwest to end at NC 19 (now Old US 221 Road). In 1930, NC 181 was rerouted north of Pineola to its current northern terminus in Newland; this decommissioned NC 175 and NC 176 and re-branded the old route briefly as NC 691 and later US 221. In 1934, NC 181 was extended further southwest to US 176 in Tryon. In 1940, NC 181 southern terminus moved back to Morganton, it's southwesterly route replaced by US 64 Alternate (later US 64 and US 64 Business) and NC 108. Sometime between 1969 and 1982, NC 181 was split onto one-way streets in downtown Morganton (Green and Sterling streets); its current southern terminus ends at the begin of NC 181 on Meeting street.
US 64 Bus. west / US 70 Bus. / NC 18 south
|West end of US 65 Business overlap, south end of NC 18 overlap|
US 64 Bus. east / NC 18 north (Avery Avenue)
|East end of US 64 Business overlap, north end of NC 18 overlap|
|1.1||1.8||US 64 (US 64 Bypass) – Lenoir|
|1.7||2.7||NC 126 west – Lake James|
|9.0||14.5||Fish Hatchery Road|
|12.4||20.0||Brown Mountain Beach Road|
|26.5||42.6||NC 183 west – Linville Falls||To Linville Gorge Wilderness|
|Avery||28.2||45.4||Blue Ridge Parkway|
|Pineola||30.0||48.3||US 221 south (Linville Falls Highway) – Crossnore, Marion||South end of US 221 overlap|
|Linville||32.8||52.8||US 221 north to NC 105 (Newland Highway) – Linville, Boone, Banner Elk||North end of US 221 overlap; to Grandfather Mountain and area ski resorts|
|Newland||36.2||58.3||NC 194 (Pineola Street) – Elk Park, Crossnore|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Brown Mountain
- Chestnut Mountain
- Linville Falls
- Linville Gorge Wilderness
- Linville River
- Grandfather Mountain
- North Carolina Bicycle Route 2
- North Carolina Bicycle Route 6
- Google Inc. "NC 181". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=S+Green+St%2FKnightdale+Bypass+E&daddr=36.06784,-81.88463+to:Pineola+St&hl=en&geocode=FZZuIQId2pAh-w%3BFQBaJgIdKooe-yk7Oxi_o5RQiDGsgIeFtafLYg%3BFbKdJgIdqN8d-w&mra=dpe&mrcr=0&mrsp=1&sz=13&via=1&sll=36.064642,-81.840591&sspn=0.103656,0.222988&ie=UTF8&ll=35.926869,-81.756134&spn=0.415347,0.891953&z=11. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- "NCDOT: Scenic Byways". Retrieved January 6, 2011.
- "North Carolina Memorial Highways and other Named Facilities" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Beatrice Cobb". Retrieved October 1, 2010.
- NCRoads - NC 181