by Ann Hertzler
In about 1947, soon after Ray’s Dad built the 3 cottages, his Dad got into the Charter Fishing Business along with a Marina. Ray’s Dad and Mr. D.P. Lilly became very good friends and partners. They obtained a 99 year lease from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the property at the very end of U. S. 421 to build the first marina and boat ramp at Ft. Fisher.
They got a black gentleman from Seabreeze to bring his horse and drag pan to start the digging. A drag pan is like a very large shovel (scoop) with two handles. The very strong operator would lift the handles as the horse pulled it, scooped it full of soil, then push down on the handle when the scoop was full, having the horse pull it to the area to be dumped. There, the strong man would lift the handles, flipping the pan over to dump the soil.
When the water level was reached, they had a Drag-Line to come in and continue digging to get the marina deep enough for the boats that would be using it. Once the boat ramp and docks were complete, they had the drag-line remove the berm left between the marina and the Basin.
To get to New Inlet, Corncake Inlet, or the Cape Fear River, you had to go toward Zeke’s Island, where they had broken the rock wall apart. They had built the rock wall from the end of U.S.421 to Zeke’s Island and then on over toward Bald Head Island between 1875 and 1881 to reduce the flow of water through New Inlet that caused severe shoaling in the Cape Fear River.