(To close out the year, we’re counting off five of our most-read stories from 2017. While many of our clicks this year came on stories of tragedy, we’ve left those pieces off this list out of respect for the families. Here’s number five. Check back each day between now and December 30 for each new installment.)

When we brought you the story of “Lee County’s little-known island” in February, we didn’t know if there was any appetite for the kind of story that blended local history, local geography and outdoor adventure.

There was. The response to the story of the hidden island unknown to many locals even prompted us to begin looking for other interesting wrinkles in the story of our region and how those wrinkles led to the community Lee County is today. We expect to bring you more of these stories in 2018.

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We received comments from Lee County longtimers and newcomers alike, many of whom were familiar with or had even been to McKay Island. Many others said they were learning about it for the first time. On the 70-plus Facebook shares, the comments went on and on.

Long story short, uninhabited McKay Island sits in the Cape Fear River, a few miles south of where the Deep and Haw rivers meet, between Lee and Chatham counties. It has a long history of ownership by various power companies and is inaccessible (and even virtually unviewable) except by boat. Just a couple miles upriver is another interesting legend – that of “Mermaid Point,” which you can read about in our coverage from February.

Read the next installment of this series here.