Eight Days Down The Cape Fear River

from Our State Magazine

…   After 170 miles of paddling, downtown Wilmington appears at the confluence of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear rivers.

We ducked underneath a railroad bridge at Navassa as a large sightseeing boat was bearing down on us. “We love you, Kemp!” screamed a dozen women and girls onboard. Kemp shook his head and smiled. The captain was a friend of his, Kemp said. He wasn’t really that popular.

At 11:30, we paddled underneath another highway bridge at the mouth of the Northeast Cape Fear River, and suddenly we were downtown, passing a Coast Guard cutter and the Battleship North Carolina, waterfront parks, buildings, fountains, and cars. Men and women eating lunch at riverside restaurants watched us take stroke after stroke. Joggers glanced at us. Dogs sniffed in our direction. We sat up straight, and stuck out our chests. We paddled toward Dram Tree Park like runners entering a stadium at the end of a grueling marathon.

We turned left, just above the noisy Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, and pulled onto a ramp, where Cape Fear River Watch volunteers, friends, and onlookers greeted us. We walked up the street to Elijah’s for a big lunch and Endless River beer. It felt like our journey was over, even though we weren’t done just yet. “The worst part of the trip ending?” Chris said. “You don’t get to paddle the next day.”

As we walked, one of the onlookers stopped me. “How was the trip?” she asked.

It was like having a new job, I said. A good job. I got up in the morning, and got to work paddling. At the end of the day, I had dinner, relaxed, and went to bed. The next morning, I got up and did it again. It was simple. As simple as I dreamed it could be.

And with that, on the seventh day, we rested.

The last day of paddling was an afterthought. We had 26 miles to go, and the wind was at our backs, with a falling tide to push us. We’d reach the river’s end by lunchtime. We left Dram Tree Park at 5:30 a.m. with light boats, carrying just some water and snacks. We paddled into the blackness of the 42-foot-deep shipping channel and quickly encountered a container ship, the Maersk Wakayama, being guided by a tugboat to the mile-long State Port just south of downtown. We gave it a wide berth. The ship was almost the size of two football fields and its captain likely couldn’t see us.

The Cape Fear River was now an estuary, and as its water dried on our coats, it left behind a salty residue. The channel was a mile wide. We passed Island 13, a splinter of land bulked up by sand and dirt dredged from the riverbed. Ahead, the water disappeared into the horizon, under a blue sky flecked with high, pink clouds. Pelicans, ibis, and seagulls circled above us.

View images and read the full story of paddling 200 miles down the Cape Fear River at Our State Magazine.

 

World War I and its “Indescribable Desolation”

By Nancy Gadzuk

Jan Davidson, Historian at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, spoke at the January 16, 2017 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.

Jan spoke on Service, Sacrifice, and Memorialization: New Hanover County Residents and World War I.

The United States entered World War I in 1917. The war was sold effectively to citizens as a fight for democracy, and colorful propaganda posters promised “Adventure and Action” while serving the country.

World War I was considered a total war that required mobilization on every front. Everything and everyone had to come together: mobilizing business, labor, finances, and, especially, mobilizing “Red Blooded Fighting Men Between 18 and 40.”

Wilmington became the biggest source of draftees in the region, with the majority of its draftees African American. Women were called to serve as nurses.

It was a terrible war, known for its “indescribable desolation” and killing its soldiers both in action and through disease, all the while setting the stage for World War II.

Those soldiers who did return did not come home unharmed. As one North Carolina returnee wrote from a psychiatric hospital, “We aren’t the same animals at all who left home.”

Wilmington’s World War I Memorial was first erected in 1922 to honor New Hanover County’s war dead. The monument was moved, restored, and rededicated along the downtown Riverwalk in 2014.

The following quote from the Roman poet Horace (born 65 B.C.) is inscribed on its base: “Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori. ” This was a well-known rallying call during World War I, translating to: “It is sweet and proper to die for your country.”

Dulce et Decorum Est is also the name of the best known poem from the first World War, written by British soldier Wilfred Owen. Owen was killed in action in France one week before the Armistice.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
Pro patria mori.


Cape Fear Museum’s Historian Jan Davidson:  A Moving Monument – Wilmington’s World War I Memorial

 

February Meeting – Cape Fear Riverwatch

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, February 20, 7:30 p.m. at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month will be Kemp Burdette, the Cape Fear Riverkeeper and Executive Director of Cape Fear River Watch, where he works to protect and improve the water quality of the Lower Cape Fear River.

Kemp’s academic background is in geology and history, graduating from UNCW magna cum laude with honors, and he holds a master of public administration (MPA), also from UNCW. He holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University, as well.

Kemp spends most of his free time with his two daughters, Olivia and Caroline, working in his garden, or tinkering in his workshop, or exploring the waterways and swamps of the Lower Cape Fear Region. He has been the Executive Director and Riverkeeper for Cape Fear River Watch since 2010.

Cape Fear Riverwatch organizes monthly environmental seminars that cover topics and issues affecting the Lower Cape Fear River Basin. They encourage working internships for students. At Greenfield Lake, they offer Environmental Education classes and provide Eco-Tours and Bird Watching Tours.

CFRW offers water-quality education programs to groups including schools, civic groups, developers, homeowner associations and others. They provide storm water management training for local government staff.

 

From the President – February, 2017

Carolina Beach Hotel, Part II

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By Elaine Henson

On May 26, 1927, just before opening for the summer season, the Carolina Beach Hotel with all its furnishings plus the adjacent 755 lots were sold to John R. Baker of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  The sale represented most of the holdings of the Carolina Beach Corporation who had built the hotel and owned the lots.  The sale resulted in a change of management and may have been the reason the formal opening was delayed until June 18th.

Surprisingly, on July 25, 1927, John R. Baker sold the hotel and lots to Sam Jackson of Mecklenburg County who sold it again to Highway Park West, Inc. of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Three sales in two months may have been an indication that the “Roaring Twenties” economy was riding high in a bubble that was to break with the October, 1929 stock market crash resulting in the Great Depression.  Economics aside, the new owners from Greensboro announced on July 28th that they planned to operate the hotel year round and were making plans to do so.

Less than 6 weeks later, on September 13, 1927, the Carolina Beach Hotel lay in smoldering ruins, the result of a fire that burned it to the ground.  Miraculously rescued from the burning hotel were two of the owners, H.T. Ireland and J.L. Byrd, both of Greensboro.

The rescue was assisted by a nearby resident, W.W. Lewis, who was awakened about 2:30 in the morning by gun shots and cries for help. Mr. Lewis said Ireland and Byrd were in their night clothes, had on no shoes and jumped from the 14 foot high porch roof.  The pair were the only ones in the hotel.

Earlier they had been taking inventory of the property with plans of reopening the hotel for the first winter season.  The next day attorneys for Ireland began an investigation of possible arson.  Also on the scene investigating were Stacy W. Wade, North Carolina Fire Insurance Commissioner, and his deputy Captain W.A. Scott.

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On November 18, 1927, H.T. Ireland and J.L. Byrd were arrested in Greensboro after a New Hanover County Grand Jury returned true bills of indictments against them for house burning in connection with the fire at the Carolina Beach Hotel.  They each posted a bond of $5,000 and were to appear in Superior Court, New Hanover County in January, 1928.

Captain W.A. Scott of the NC Fire Insurance Commission and an inspector from the National Board of Fire Underwriters had conducted a thorough investigation of the fire resulting in the grand jury’s action and the men’s subsequent arrests.

Carolina Beach Hotel, Part I

Coming next month, Part III

 

 

World War One – Part II

“The War to End All Wars”

In conjunction with our WWI exhibit, we will be publishing a short brochure on the causes and history of WWI.  The text is from American Political and Social History by Harold Underwood Faulkner, published May 1937, F.S. Crofts & Co., New York

WHY WE FOUGHT

Amazed at the blundering diplomacy that had made possible such a war, and confused as to the issues, the United States, following a century-old tradition, took an official position of neutrality.  In an appeal to the American people, “drawn from many nations, and chiefly from the nations at war,” President Wilson urged neutrality “in fact as well as in name during these days that try men’s souls.”

But the world was too small for this to be more than a pious hope.  At least four major influences were at work eventually to break down neutrality: (1) the heterogeneous character of the American population, (2) the increasing economic interest of the United States in the war, (3) the superior propaganda facilities of the allied Powers, and (4) the violations of neutral rights by the belligerents.

Of particular interest to politicians, propagandists, and national leaders was the reaction of the foreign-born population to the war.  While the older stock had emanated largely from the British Isles, at least 9,000,000 of the American population had been born in Germany or had one parent born there.  About one third of our population was foreign-born or of foreign-born parentage.

Of greater significance was the increasing economic stake of this country in the Allied cause.  The most pronounced early effect of the war upon America was a tremendous economic stimulation.

This is of particular importance because the nation, in the spring and summer of 1913, appeared to be sinking into the downward swing of an economic cycle, a trend that was quickly reversed by the European war.  Just as during the Napoleonic wars a hundred years earlier, Europe was too busily engaged in destruction to provide sufficient raw materials, and the United States became a source of all types of commodities, particularly foodstuffs and munitions.

The value of wheat exports, for example, rose from $39,000,000 in 1913, to $300,000,000 in 1917, and the value of munition exports from $5,000,000 to $803,000,000.  Production of cotton, foodstuffs, and minerals jumped forward, while the value of the exports of domestic merchandise almost tripled.

The excess value of exports over imports for the year ending June 30, 1914, was $435,800,000; for that ending in 1917, $3,567,800,000.  All this meant a sudden and widespread prosperity.  The United States profited enormously during the early years of the war, and her profits came almost entirely from the Allied Powers.

As Great Britain tightened the blockade around Germany and extended the contraband list, it became increasingly difficult to export to the Central Powers.  While American exports gravitated inevitably to Britain and her allies, these exports, owing to the diminutive size of the American merchant marine and the fact that Germany’s great merchant marine had been driven from the seas, were more than ever dependent upon British ships.

In another important way American economic life was changed by the World War and her interests tied more closely with those of the Triple Entente.  To finance the large-scale purchases, Europe shipped during the war close to a billion dollars in gold to the United States, and private citizens in Europe disposed of American securities to the value of two billion dollars.  When the war broke out, foreign investments in the United States were estimated at over $5,000,000,000, while American investments abroad amounted to at least $2,500,000,000, leaving the country a debtor to Europe by over 2,500,000,000.

Although Secretary of State, Bryan, held to the view that “money is the worst of all contrabands” and that loans to belligerent powers were “inconsistent with the spirit of neutrality,” the administration very early conveyed the impression that it would not oppose short-term credits that American bankers might extend to the belligerents, and a year later (August, 1915) that it would not oppose loans floated here.  The charge has often been made that this attitude was influenced by the desire to maintain economic prosperity in the United States, but the position of the administration was perfectly legal and in line with every precedent of international law.  Any other position at the time was hardly to be expected.

Beginning with the Anglo-French loan in October, 1915, private loans to the Entente Powers were floated here to the extent of some $1,500,000,000.  After we entered the war, the United States government extended credits to European governments amounting to over $10,500,000,000.  From a debtor nation, the United States almost overnight emerged as the great creditor nation of the world.  It is of more than passing significance that while the Allies floated here $1,500,000,000 in loans, Germany borrowed but $35,000,000, of which only $27,000,000 was outstanding when we entered the war.

 

Primrose Marketplace – March 11, 2017

Featured Business Member
February, 2017

By Tony (Lem) Phillips

Primrose Cottage has announced that they will have the first Primrose Cottage Market Place of 2017 on March 11th in the store next to them, in the Maxway shopping center behind the ABC store.

We always have a great time at those one day sales. The Federal Point History Center booth will be at the door once again. Lots of exciting things to see.

If you want to set up a table, contact Jill Walker Lyons at 458-0144. Booth is $55.

 

Society Notes – February, 2017

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

Fort Fisher 152nd Reenactment – Fundraiser!

We had a great year at the Reenactment this year.  Sold 480 hotdogs along with tons of sodas, chips, and homemade cookies!

A huge THANKS goes out to everyone who donated time and energy to making this a very successful fundraiser.

 

At the Fort (ALL DAY!)                                           Baked Cookies

Darlene and Leslie Bright                   Juanita Winner                       Doris Bame
Demetria and Phil Sapienza               Jane Dugan                             Jean Stewart
Cheri McNeill                                        Kitty Slebodnik                       Elaine Henson
Jim Dugan                                             Nancy Gadzuk                         Ann Green
Jim Kohler                                             Demetria Sapienza                 Cheri McNeill
Paul Slebodnik                                      Darlene Bright                        Rebecca Taylor
Rodney Jones                                        Sylvia Snook

  • The History Center recorded 51 visitors in January. We had 49 in attendance at the January Meeting. The gift shop took in $141.00.
  • The History Center was used for meetings held by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, The Carolina Beach Walk of Fame Committee and the Lewis Civil War Park Committee this month.
  • New Members: Linda Ogden of Carolina Beach, George Eckenrode and Candace Kelley of Wilmington, Don Hatch of Spring Grove, IL, and Frances and Daniel Parham of Wilmington.
  • Our sympathies go out to Nancy McGwier and her family at the loss of her son, Cam Miller.