Federal Point is the large peninsula that divides the Cape Fear River from the Atlantic Ocean. Located south of Wilmington, NC, it encompasses the Towns of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach as well as the unincorporated areas of Sea Breeze and Monkey Junction. The southern tip, below Snow’s Cut, is also known as “Pleasure Island.”
People began calling it Federal Point in the 1790’s in honor of the new federal government and the ratification of the United States Constitution by North Carolina in 1789. A map engraved by Joshua Potts about 1797 shows Federal Point by name. During the Civil War it was re-named Confederate Point but after five long years of war, the name reverted to Federal Point again.
Federal Point in Retrospect
Federal Point Township, New Hanover County, enjoys a long and storied history from colonial settlement to military fortification to the blossoming of the modern tourist industry:
CAPE FEAR INDIANS
Tools and implements found today tell us local prehistoric people were nomadic in nature and evolved from subsisting on large game to a more settled lifestyle. By 1550, they had cultivated a large variety of vegetables and tobacco. Sioux, Tuscarora and Algonquin tribes frequented the area during the 10,000 years prior to European settlement.
After several failed attempts to establish settlements, Maurice Moore founded the town of Brunswick in 1727 on the west bank of the Cape Fear River. A ferry and two “haulovers” on the east bank linked Brunswick Town with Federal Point. Sedgeley Abbey and Gander Hall were two prominent plantations. Newton, Burriss, Grissom and other families also settled the lower peninsula.
During the “Great Unpleasantness” (1861-1865), Federal Point became a defensive network protecting the Port of Wilmington for Blockade Runners bringing badly needed supplies past the Union blockade of New Inlet. The CSS North Carolina and the CSS Raleigh, Confederate ironclads, posed a constant threat against assault by Union Naval forces.
Captain John Harper established Carolina Beach by running a steamer from Wilmington to a wharf near Snow’s Cut. He then brought tourists to the beach via a narrow gauge railroad, which he built in 1896. A large dance pavilion and beach cottages followed. Carolina Beach was incorporated in 1925 and has continued to grow and develop as a beach community and tourist destination.
The Hans Kure family established the Kure Land Development Company, building a narrow gauge railroad from the river to the sea. The railroad transported materials and supplies, as well as tourists. A fishing pier, built in 1923, continues to operate today. Kure Beach was incorporated in 1947.
From the 1920s to the 1960s, Freeman Beach, later named Seabreeze, attracted local Blacks and vacationers from all over the East Coast with the promise of socializing, dining, surf fishing and swimming.
WORLD WAR II
Fort Fisher served as an Army Anti-aircraft Training Center from 1941-1945. It contained 48 framed buildings and 316 tent frames and housed up to 2,200 men at any given time.
Carolina Beach – Kure Beach – Seabreeze – Monkey Junction – Masonboro Sound – Myrtle Grove – The Cape – Fort Fisher