Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge

US 321 in North Carolina

Northern America


US 321
Get started Crowds
End Sugar Grove
Length 102 mi
Length 164 km
  • South Carolina
  • Gastonia
  • Freeway
  • Gaston College
  • Dallas
  • High Shoals
  • Gastonia Highway
  • Lincolnton
  • South Maiden
  • North Maiden
  • Startown
  • Mountain View
  • Brookford
  • Hickory
  • Lenoit
  • Boone
  • Tennessee

According to, US 321 is a US Highway in the US state of North Carolina. The route forms a north-south route in the west of the state and is partially a highway. The route is 164 kilometers long.

Travel directions

West of Sugar Grove, US 321 crosses the Tennessee – North Carolina border. The road initially heads east but turns south at Boone towards Lenoir. The road then becomes a main road with 2×2 lanes. This lasts until Hickory, after which US 321 becomes a highway from Hickory to Gastonia. This section is 53 kilometers long. At Gastonia one crosses Interstate 85, the highway from Atlanta to Charlotte. You then pass the secondary road network through the town of Gastonia and you reach the border with South Carolina at Crowders.


US 321 was added to the network in 1930 and at that time ran from Chester, South Carolina to Bristol, Tennessee and thus already through North Carolina. In 1933, the northern terminus was changed to Boone, North Carolina, which was extended again to Johnson City, Tennessee in 1961. Significant upgrades have been made to US 321, including large-scale rerouting.

Gastonia – Hickory

In the 1960s, the section between the South Carolina state line and Gastonia was widened to a 2×2 divided highway. Construction of a freeway between Gastonia and Hickory began in the 1980s. This was partly more westerly than the old route. The highway was opened in several phases from south to north, the section between Gastonia and the south side of Lincolnton was built in the 1980s, the Lincolnton bypass opened around 1994, up to Maiden and around 1998 the Maiden section opened to Hickory. The large cloverleaf I-40 at Hickory, however, is older than the US 321 freeway and was constructed in the early 1980s or earlier, which was unconnected for a longer period of time than local roads at Hickory.

Hickory – Lenoir

In the 1960s, US 421 between Hickory and Lenoir was rerouted over a new 2×2 lane. As of 2019, the 20-kilometer stretch between Hickory and Lenoir has been further widened to 2×3 lanes. This was the first 2×3 stretch in North Carolina that is not in a metropolitan area. The widening is designed as a Superstreet.

Lenoir – Boone

In the 1980s and 1990s, US 321 was also partially widened north of Lenoir into a 2×2 divided highway, initially to Warrior and in the late 1990s to Patterson. Further north, the road has been widened to a 5-lane road with a center turn lane, around 2005 to the height of Mulberry and around 2008-2009 to just south of Blowing Rock. The trickiest part was on the south side of Blowing Rock, where the road was widened to a 2×2 road between 2013 and 2018. The northern part from Blowing Rock to Boone had already been widened to 2×2 lanes in the 1980s.

US 321 is one of the higher 4-lane highways in the southeastern United States, Blowing Rock is located nearly 1,100 meters above sea level.

Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge

Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge
Spans Croatian Sound
Lanes 2×2
Total length 8,407 meters
Main span 70 meters
Bridge deck height ? meter
Opening 16-08-2002
Traffic intensity 5,000 mvt/day
Location Map

The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge or the Croatan Sound Bridge is a bridge in the United States, located in the state of North Carolina. The 8.4 kilometer bridge spans the Croatan Sound near Manteo.


The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge is a standard girder bridge with predominantly short spans of 30 to 42 meters. The bridge has a main span of 70 meters. The bridge is 8,407 meters long and connects Manns Harbor on the mainland to Manteo on Roanoke Island. It is one of two bridges from US 64 in North Carolina to reach the Outer Banks. The bridge is 19.2 meters wide, with 2×2 lanes, without emergency lanes. The bridge is toll-free.


The first bridge across Croatan Sound to Manteo was the William B. Umstead Bridge, which opened in 1955. Due to the rise of tourism on the Outer Banks, traffic on US 64 increased sharply, especially during the summer and weekends. All traffic had to cut through the village of Manteo to reach the coast. That’s why the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge was built, which opened to traffic on August 16, 2002. When opened, it was North Carolina’s longest bridge.

The bridge is named after Virginia Dare, the first child born in the “New World” in 1587 in the Roanoke Colony, on Roanoke Island, where Manteo is located today. Virginia Dare is an important person in American folklore. It was never known what the further life of Virginia Dare was. Roanoke Colony is known as the “Lost Colony” because it is never known what happened between the documented visits in 1587 and 1590. By 1590 the colony was gone.

Traffic intensities

In 2012, an average of 5,000 vehicles crossed the bridge every day. Traffic intensities fluctuate strongly throughout the year due to tourism.

Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge