North Carolina-Steamships Cape Fear River-February 1

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-February 1

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.

Over the past several weeks I have traveled from the Fayeteville NC area to Wilmington NC. I began to think about a mode of transportation that seems foreign to us today but in the 19th century if you wanted to got to Wilmington, NC from Fayetteville NC you took a steamship.

Steamship travel on the Cape Fear River was made possible by a man named Jospeh Seawell from Fayetteville, NC who in 1817 was granted a 7 year monopoly from the State of NC to offer steamship service from Fayetteville to Wilmington.

His first ship was the Henrietta and a good blog post on that steamer is found below.

130 years ago the Cape Fear region experienced some very cold weather. So cold in fact the river froze.

This seems hard for us to imagine today. We never see it frozen. THE WILMINGTON STAR newspaper for February 13, 1886, tells us that in January, 1886, two of the steamers, the “Bladen” and the “Hurt” loaded at Fayetteville and headed down a frozen river toward Wilmington. After several days, more characterized by difficulties than by progress, the two skippers admitting defeat, tied up their ships at Tar Heel. Whereupon the passengers disembarked and walked twenty miles overland to Lumberton, where they were able to take a train for Wilmington.

Next time you leave Faytteville NC driving down NC 87 headed towards Wilmington via Elizabethtown, NC think about laying down $3.00 and riding a steamship. Times have changed.

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