Jeffries Creek is a tributary of the Great Pee Dee River and is the main waterway that flows through the city, passing south of the city center.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.9 square miles (54.2 km Autumn, winter and spring are mild, with occasional winter nights below freezing but rarely extended cold. The city, like other cities of the Southeast, is prone to inversions, which trap ozone and other pollutants over the area.
The area was gradually settled through the late 19th and early 20th century.
Early settlers practiced subsistence farming and produced indigo, cotton, naval stores and timber, which were shipped down the Great Pee Dee River to the port at Georgetown and exported.
In the mid-19th century two intersecting railroads were built, the Wilmington and Manchester, and the Northeastern.