Oral History – Ray Rothrock – Part 3: ‘Fort Fisher’

by Ann Hertzler

The buildings at Ft. Fisher Army Base were not originally for families. It was an Army Base with barracks, a few office buildings and a very large Mess Hall. The buildings were pre-fabricated somewhere else, the 8 by 8 foot sections brought in by trucks and put together. Even the roof was in sections; they just had to put the tar paper and shingles on to complete the installation. After the War, the base closed.

Families bought the buildings and housing and had them moved all over the beaches, mostly on Kure Beach, then Hanby and Wilmington Beach. From 3 blocks south of the traffic light in Kure Beach, today you can see the buildings still standing that were moved from the Ft. Fisher Army Base. Some were primary homes and many were utilized as second homes or beach homes. They were inexpensive to buy and did not cost very much to move.

The airstrip is the section right past the Civil War Museum where it parallels the highway. Just before you turn into the Ft. Fisher Aquarium, you can see where the airstrip was. Ray remembers the Army being there but does not recall seeing any military airplanes. After the base closed, Punky Kure and others would use the short airstrip for their airplanes to spot Menhaden fish for the boats netting them along the coast.

The Ft. Fisher Army Base began where the concrete columns are today and went to the end of U.S. 421, just past where the Ft. Fisher/Southport Ferry is today. His Dad and fishing partner, D.P. Lilly eventually built the boat ramp and docks at the end of the road. Going down U.S. 421, on the left side or ocean side were several bunkers where the Army stored their ammunition. One of the bunkers was where the Hermit claimed his home to be. Ray went into the Navy in 1955 which was before the Hermit came to KB.

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