Society Notes – March, 2013

Darlene Bright, History Center Director

  • Active member and longtime Social Committee chair, Virginia Frances, passed away Thursday March 7 after a long struggle with a number of health issues. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers.
  • This month we recorded 23 members and guests at our February meeting. The History Center recorded 32 visitors. The gift shop took in $100.99.
  • Please welcome new business member Cynthia Remahl, Realtor, with Intracoastal Realty Corporation of Carolina Beach.
  • Thanks to our History Center Volunteers Demetria Sapienza and Lois Taylor for keeping the History Center open when Rebecca needed a day off. And, thanks to Cheri McNeill for her always thorough proofing of the newsletter and Lois Taylor for her help getting the Newsletter in the mail.
  • Thanks to Carl Filipiak who has begun cataloging all our subject files on Friday mornings! It’s going to be great to have those files indexed in our regular catalog.



Rebecca has been madly clipping almost 10 years of old newspapers that had accumulated in our archives. Now we have lots and lots of clippings and new subject folders that need to be filed. No computer experience required.

If you have a couple of hours a week for a short term project please consider helping us get all our resources in tip-top shape. We also need people with some basic computer experience to enter these subject records into our online catalog, which is a much more long term project.


Captain John Harper – from the Bill Reaves Files

August 17, 1880 – The steamer PASSPORT was to make her last trip of the season to the “Rocks” at New Inlet. Capt. John W. Harper, master of the steamer, stated that “the tide will exactly suit for a good day’s fishing at this point, being low water about 12 noon”.  (Wilm Star, 8-13-1880)


August 14, 1883 – A moonlight excursion was offered on the steamboat PASSPORT to Federal Point. Music and dancing, Sheepshead Supper at Mayo’s Place. Fare for round trip 50 cents. One hour at Federal Point. John W. Harper and George N. Harriss, Managers.   (Wilm Star, 8-14-1883)


June 5, 1887  – Fifteen miles from Wilmington on the banks of the ocean is situated Carolina Beach which is daily, rapidly, and deservedly growing in popular favor. How is it reached? One hour is hardly spent on the steamer PASSPORT when the boat moves slowly to Harper’s Pier, where the pleasure seekers disembark to find in readiness a train of cars awaiting to carry them to their destination. These cars are made after the manner of cars used at Coney Island and are convenient and commodious. A ride of five or six minutes through a level and interesting country, filled with flowers and green shrubbery, brings you in full view of the ocean.
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Oral History – Earl Page – Part 6 : ‘Fort Fisher Pier’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

The 5 piers going from south to north were Fort Fisher Pier, Kure Pier, Center Pier, the Steel Pier in the heart of Carolina Beach with the sky ride/lift, and the Northern Extension Pier. Now we have two – The Northern Extension and Mike’s at Kure Beach.

The Ft. Fisher pier, first built in 1938 was at the end of the highway. Only one bus between Wilmington and Carolina Beach would come down here and turn around further south than the cement gateways to Ft Fisher; but not beyond where the Ft. Fisher State Park/Aquarium is now. 500 ft. north of the museum was the end of the highway. The highway used to be over alongside the cliff with a huge, beautiful beach that was inaccessible. You could see part of it on low tide. A piling stood there for years after Hazel.

The pier with the bait shop was here with the cottages which had a restaurant. When you drove in to the pier or the restaurant, eight cottages were on the right hand side. There was nothing near the pier before they built the Blue Top. It was all forest.

Notice the difference in the two pictures of Fort Fisher Pier. The second picture has a platform on to load a boat. The boat would put out its anchor when it reached this platform and then put two guidelines to keep the boat from rocking so people could come aboard. They didn’t have to go through the breakers then.

This pier was 26 ft. wide and the nicest pier on the beach. All the other boats had to go through the surf. You could go up to Masonboro Inlet.  Corncake Inlet was not deep enough for boats this size. It’s filled in now. Just this side of Bald Head was a nice inlet for outboards. If you got on the other side of Corncake, you were on Bald Head.


There were no inlets around here then. Masonboro was a man-made inlet, the one with the rocks on each side. Mother-nature made Corncake and also cut another inlet between Ft. Fisher Pier and Corncake. But it was only accessible by small Motorboats a few years. You went out to a place called High Rock, just a hop and a skip out in the ocean which was excellent fishing. Spanish mackerel were jumping everywhere. They’d jump in the boat it was so thick out there.

They did not have head boats and party boats like they do now to take people out. Carl Winner was one of the first ones to go out through the surf. And you helped him with the boat, bringing it up on the hill and putting it in the water. Not so much the women, but the men. You’ve already paid him his money and now you’re going to help put the boat in the water. That was common. Nobody gave it a second thought.


Monthly Meeting Report – Februrary, 2013

Last Month’s Meeting –

Our February meeting was a success as Frances Massey told us about the history of the Island of Lights Committee.

Originally founded in 1989-1990 as a project of the short lived Carolina Beach Jaycees, by early 1991 a formal Island of Lights Committee had a membership of 20 volunteers. Today they have an active membership of almost 50.

Their ongoing fundraising projects include the April fashion show, a booth at the October Jazz Festival, and, of course, the annual Christmas ornament and Christmas card. Events currently include the Lights on the Lake, the Christmas Parade, the Holiday flotilla, a tour of homes, and the New Years Eve countdown.

Frances Massey has strong ties to the local community. Her family moved to Carolina Beach when she was in 5th grade and she attended Carolina Beach School, Sunset Junior High, and was a member of the first full class at Hoggard High School. She is now retired from a life long career teaching K-5 special education in the New Hanover County Schools.

Also in February, 2013

Ribbon Cut for the opening of renovated

FPHPS Library and Archive









The library re-model is finally done and it looks so professional! Our library and archives will be far more functional with room to expand the collection as time goes by. Best of all we will be able to put our hands on specific information much more quickly. It will also provide a more effective and useful space for writers and researchers.