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As the original claim to the name is officially unknown, there are several stories that hold true to this day as to how North Carolina became known as the Tar Heel state. Most historians believe that the name Tar Heel came about as a result of the fact that North Carolina was rich in tar, pitch & turpentine, which was created from the overwhelming pine forests population in the state, which in turn became one of the state’s most important commodity exports in the early days.

There are as many legends as to the origin of the name as there are people. It all depends upon who you speak with, what history books you search, what internet site you search or what ole timer you set down to talk to. It is a name that we in North Carolina are proud of and continue to be proud of to this day. One town located in Bladen County, North Carolina was so taken by the name that they decided to have the town called Tar Heel, North Carolina.

In 1895 a newspaper for the University of North Carolina was founded and the students decided that the proper name should be The Tar Heel, which was later changed to The Daily Tar Heel. It has been adopted as the nickname of the athletic teams and students of the University of North Carolina.

Nicknames have a way of sticking with a person and in this case an entire state, so it makes anyone who is a North Carolinian proud to be called a Tar Heel.
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Facsimile of the First issue of The Tar Heel, published by the University of North CarolinaFacsimile of the First issue of The Tar Heel, published by the University of North Carolina

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