Newsletter – July, 2021

History Center Again Open Three Days a Week!

Thursday, Friday, Saturday

10:00 am to 4:00 pm



Monthly Meetings/Programs to Return in September!


Monday, September 20: 7:30   9:00 pm.

John Moseley of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will talk on the WASPs (Women’s Air Service Pilots)  and the role they played in the training of the men stationed at Fort Fisher during WWII, where they learned to shoot anti-aircraft artillery.

Monday, October 18:   7:30 – 9:00 pm.

Using his book, The Life and Tryals of the Gentleman Pirate, Major Stede Bonnet as a backdrop, author Jeremy Moss will re-create the life and times of some of history’s most famous pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard.

Saturday, November 6:   2:00 – 4:00 pm.

Historian Chris Fonvielle, will lead our annual walk to view the remnants of the Civil War trenches that can still be seen in Carolina Beach. This year we will begin at the J. Ryder Lewis Jr. Civil War Park and then hike from the History Center to Sugar Loaf in the Carolina Beach State Park. For reservations call: 910-458-0502.


Monday, November 15:   7:30 – 9:00 pm.

John Bennett and musical friends will play 19th Century music and talk about music and dance in the culture of the time. They will play a mix of the most popular tunes from the mid 1800’s.



From the President – July, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier Part VI

Golden Sands Motel


The original Golden Sands Motel was located on two ocean front lots in the 1200 block of South Lake Park Boulevard, just north of the Center Pier.  It was built the 1960s. This post card is from 1978 and shows the two story motel with office/living quarters on the left and an above ground pool on the right.

The back of the post card reveals details about the motel including that it was owned and operated by P. V. Medlin and Betty L. Hurt.  Betty, a widow,  later became Mrs. Medlin and was the first woman mayor of Kure Beach and the first mayor elected by the vote of the people instead of being elected by town council. Mayor Medlin served from 1993 to 2005.  The Medlins sold the Golden Sands in 1981, and, then bought the Rolling Surf Motel across from  the Kure Pier.

Betty Medlin died in January, 2007; in December of that year the Town of Kure Beach purchased the Rolling Surf property for $3.6 million. It became the site for the Kure Beach Ocean Park which opened in April, 2013.

In 1985, the new owners of the Golden Sands, going by Golden Sands Motel LLC, added a two story addition on the ocean front, built perpendicular to the street. It was up on pilings and had twelve units; they later added an owner’s quarters on one end.  In 1995, they purchased the Center Pier which was just south of their motel.  The pier was badly damaged the next year by back to back hurricanes Bertha and Fran and was closed.  In 1997, they built the five story Golden Sands Motel building with an ocean front swimming pool in front of the pier. The next year they added the two story Ocean Grill building which opened in December of 1998. Soon after, the stub of Center Pier became the ever popular Tiki Bar.

Photo courtesy of Golden Sands Motel

Business was good enough that another building was planned. But first, they had  to move the original Golden Sands across the street where the former Shoreline, Manning and Pier Inn motels had been.  Part of that property was and still is used for parking.  They later sold the newly relocated motel which was renamed the Sea Mist, and is now a condominium. The move made way for a new seven story Golden Sands with an indoor pool that was built in 2003.

The two Golden Sands buildings have a total of 113 rooms plus the Ocean Grill and the Tiki Bar, all popular vacation and year round destinations.   It’s come a long way since the 60s!


From King’s Highway to US 421 Part IV “The Railroad “Trolley” That Never Was”

By: Rebecca Taylor

In the 1880’s, while Captain Harper was bringing hundreds of people to the new resort of Carolina Beach by steamship from the docks in downtown Wilmington, another beach was being developed. In 1888, the Wilmington Sea Coast Railroad, under president William Latimer, built a rail line from Wilmington to Ocean View Beach, (now know as Wrightsville Beach) as far as the Island Beach Hotel, on what we now call Harbor Island.  A year later a second rail line was built that extended the line onto the barrier island as far as the Breeze Hotel.

Then in 1902, Hugh MacRae, owner of the Wilmington Gas Light Company, as well as the Wilmington Street Railway Company, bought the two smaller lines. He converted the steam trains to electric trolleys and extended the line all the way to the Carolina Yacht Club. Popular from the start, by July 4th of 1910, the “beach cars” carried 10,000 people to Wrightsville Beach.

Determined not to be left behind, the developers of the beaches on the southern end of New Hanover County, on Federal Point, were determined to add rail access to the resorts of Carolina Beach, Wilmington Beach, and Fort Fisher Sea Beach as well. As early as 1891, an article ran in the Wilmington Weekly Star stating that the Fort Fisher Land and Improvement Company was surveying land to run rail lines all the way to Fort Fisher. For unknown reasons that plan never came to fruition.

“The Carolina Beach Railway Company was organized and chartered for the purpose of building a Railway linking Carolina Beach with Wilmington. Many of the leading business men in this section, men who are on the ground and know conditions, have become interested in the project.”

Then in the early 1920’s, another developer stepped in, determined to build the long talked about rail line. The Carolina Beach Railway Company received a charter from the North Carolina General Assembly and began making plans for a line that would run from Sunset Park,  the “new” suburb on the South side of Wilmington, to the booming resort of Carolina Beach.

A state-wide campaign to raise funds by selling stock was conducted in 1920. Among the public relations promises were:

 “Sentiment in the community is wholly with the Carolina Beach Railway Company.  Expressions of approval are heard on every hand because it is realized that a mainland beach, easily accessible by Trolley, is the one thing lacking in the community, and in North Carolina. The accomplishment of this will naturally turn everyone towards Carolina Beach because it will be much safer than any other resort on the South Atlantic coast.”

Always ready to take a dig at Wrightsville Beach, the company’s publicity also stated: “The absence of rivers, creeks and bays is explained by its distance from the neighboring inlets. Consequently, the treacherous undertow and currents that take their annual toll from bathers are entirely missing at this Resort.

Among the officers of the new company were P.Q. Moore, the then serving mayor of Wilmington and John D. Bellamy who had served as congressman for the area and was general council for the Seaboard Air Line Railway. Also listed is Secretary and Manager was A. W. Pate, the owner of the New Hanover Transit Company as well as the Greystone Inn.

It’s hard to find out exactly what happened to the plan. There is a report in the newspaper that they had begun clearing land for the roadway in early 1921. However, by July of 1921, a stock salesman named J. P. Lindsey was suing Pate and the Company for $15,000 claiming he had a contract for a 15% share in stock in the company and 15% of the front lots at Carolina Beach.

After that all publicity for the railroad disappears, and by 1929, the promotional publicity for Carolina highlights the fact that you can reach the beach by automobile via. “asphalt road.”


Society Notes – July, 2021

By: Darlene Bright, History Center Director

From a Contributor:

Finale of Welborn’s island trilogy published this summer-Crazy Beach Disc III- Craziest Beach from Federal Point Books

Federal Point History Center strives to support local artists and businesses carrying a wide selection of works by local authors and numerous books about local history. One such title the Center carries is by former long-time island resident, Lynn Welborn. His Crazy Beach series concludes with this summer’s release by Federal Point Books of Crazy Beach-Disc III-Craziest Beach.  Welborn grew up on Carolina Beach in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He worked at Britt’s Donut’s as a teen and was the first person Bobby Nivens hired after he bought the business from Mr. Britt in 1974.

Welborn has written two previous volumes, Crazy Beach-Disc I and Crazy Beach-Disc II-Crazier Beach about his experiences growing up here and his other life adventures, which include attending all three official Woodstock Festivals, the first in 1969 as an 11-year old stowaway. The books feature the Ft. Fisher Hermit (“Mr. Robert” to the youth of that era), as well as many other boardwalk, and island icons of that period. Federal Point Books has released this promo for Disc III:

The book, along with its two predecessors, Crazy Beach-Disc I and Crazy Beach-Disc II-Crazier Beach are available via Amazon (just type in L.R. Welborn), and at Old Books on Front St, and Pomegranate Books both in Wilmington, Island Book Store, and the Federal Point History Center both in Carolina Beach, Maritime Market on Bald Head Island, and chain locations everywhere.

The author, who now resides in Wilmington, will be on the boardwalk later this summer for a book signing. Stay tuned for the exact day/time/location. He is looking forward to seeing and catching up with old friends. The book’s Facebook page is Crazy Beach Novels.                                                                                                                                              — Lynn Welborn

Due to Covid, we have had to postpone our membership meetings until September. Therefore, our Board of Directors have appointed officers and Board members for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021.

Officers to serve a one-year term from July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022 are:
      President – Elaine Henson
      Vice-President – Lauren Gibbs
      Secretary – Pam Bramhall
Treasurer – Darlene Bright

Board Members to serve a two-year term from July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2023 are:
      Chris Fonvielle
Jay Winner
Don Snook
Bryon Moore

 Many thanks to John Moseley and Brenda Coffey for their service. They are rotating off the Board after 3 two-year terms in accordance with our Bylaws.

During June, The History Center had ­­­­­­­­­­­­­76 visitors.

  • Welcome to new members: Jane Davison of Carolina Beach, Dick and Shannon Rowe of Carolina Beach, and Chris Rhue, of Wilmington.
  • Apologies to new Lifetime members Julia and Daniel Crouch of Carolina Beach for misreading their membership application in June.