29 Apr

Gone for the Sylvan Grove.

The Sylvan Grove, the elegant steamer which the New Hanover Transit Company will run to Carolina Beach this summer, will be brought out from New York in about ten days.  Captain John W. Harper left by rail several days ago and will be joined in New York by Captain W. A. Snell, who will act as coast pilot, Mr. A. M. Wilson, who will be mate, Mr. W. C. Price, who will be engineer, William Brown, who will be cook, and Prince Swain, colored, who will be fireman on the steamer.  Captain Snell and his party left on the last New York steamer.

[Wilmington Messenger – April 24, 1888]

NOTE: Except for the Sylvan Grove being a sidewheeler and the Wilmington being a screw, the two vessels look quite similar.



The Elegant Excursion Steamer Arrives

From New York.

Captain John W. Harper and his crew steamed into the city yesterday afternoon about 12:15 o’clock, with the excursion steamer Sylvan Grove, for which they went to New York a fortnight ago, to bring out for the New Hanover Transit Company.  At Market street wharf about two hundred people had gathered to see the new steamer come in and at all the wharves up the river large crowds lined the wharves to get a glimpse of her as she steamed along for the wharf of the Champion Compress Company.  There another crowd had gathered and as soon as the handsome steamer was made fast and the gang plank laid, the eager throng rushed aboard of her.

Many were the cordial greetings extended to Captain Harper and his crew, and they in return received all kindly.

Captain Harper sailed from New York on Saturday morning last about 2 o’clock, and after running seventy miles out from Norfolk put into that port Saturday night at 10 o’clock on account of the heavy seas running.  She left Norfolk Thursday morning at 2 o’clock and reached Southport yesterday morning about 5 o’clock.  Leaving Southport at 10:30 o’clock yesterday morning, he reached the compress wharf at 12:15 p. m.

Captain Harper says the Sylvan Grove rode the waves in a most gallant manner and stood the trip splendidly, proving herself a staunch vessel.

She is a double side wheel craft with wood hull, and was built at New York in 1858.  She is something more than 320 gross tons and a little more than 219 net tons burthen, having a length of 148 feet, and a width of forty-five feet amidships.  Her machinery consists of one condensing engine, thirty-six inches diameter of cylinder, and eight feet stroke of piston.  The boiler is twenty-seven feet long, eighty-eight inches in diameter, and is allowed a steam pressure of fifty pounds to the square inch.  She carries four life boats and oars, one life raft, life lines, 660 life preservers, 300 feet of fire hose, two hand fire pumps, forty-four fire buckets, and has pipes for forcing steam into the hold in case of fire.  The pilot house and engine room are connected with signal tubes and bell pulls, and all minor equipments that go to make her safe and comfortable.

The vessel draws about five feet of water, and the hull above water is painted white, with black gunwales.  The main and upper decks, cabins and saloons are also painted white and the wheelhouses are a light buff.  She has three decks including the hurricane deck.  She has a promenade deck forward, a double cabin 100 feet long, and aft a ladies’ saloon which is handsomely carpeted and upholstered.

Connecting the main and upper decks are two permanent stairways, at the head of the stairway aft being a large and magnificent mirror.  The upper deck also contains a double cabin 100 feet in length and there are promenade decks fore and aft.  She contains state rooms for her crew, but being built for short trips contains no accommodations in this respect for passengers.

The carrying capacity of the steamer is 650 persons, but by special permit she has carried 800 with ease.  She can house 650 people from rain.  She carries a flag on which is her name in large letters, and on the pilot house the name is printed in six inch letters.

The Sylvan Grove belonged to the “Highland Steamboat Company” of New York, and was run as an excursion boat.  She was quite popular in New York, and now that she is to ply between Wilmington and Carolina Beach she will become a popular institution here.  Her accommodations are ample, and the thousands of visitors Wilmington will have this season will have every opportunity to enjoy themselves in the way of excursions.

[Wilmington Messenger – May 5, 1888]

A Handsome Boat.

The Sylvan Grove, the steamer chartered by the New Hanover Transit Company for the excursion season, arrived here yesterday.  Capt. Harper, who is in command, says that he had a quick and pleasant trip from Norfolk; leaving that port Thursday morning last, the Grove passed Hatteras that evening and arrived at Southport at 5 a. m. yesterday.

The steamer came up to the city about noon and made fast to the wharf at the Champion Cotton Compress, where crowds of visitors, anxious to see the new craft, thronged her decks all day.  Every one seemed pleased, and there was but one expression of opinion-that the boat is admirably adapted for the purpose for which she is to be used, of just the right size, comfortably fitted up, with well sheltered decks, abundant light and ventilation in all parts of the vessel, and with every appliance for safety and speed.

The Sylvan Grove is licensed to carry 650 passengers, but has ample accommodations for a much larger number.  She registers 320 tons, has one condensing engine of thirty-six inches diameter and eight feet stroke, a turtle-back boiler twenty-seven feet long, and is equipped with a full complement of life-boats, life-preservers, fire extinguishers, etc.  She has three decks, including the hurricane deck, that are all roomy and comfortable, the boilers and engines all being below the lower deck.

The ladies’ saloon is on the upper deck, abaft.  It is handsomely fitted up with mirrors and elegantly upholstered furniture.

The steamer will open the excursion season next week, and will probably make her first trip on Monday.  She will make the run to Harper’s Pier, the landing for Carolina Beach, in less than sixty minutes, her speed being about sixteen miles an hour in smooth water.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Saturday, May 5, 1888]

Family Excursion.

With flags flying and happy faces thronging the decks, the Sylvan Grove made her baptismal excursion yesterday afternoon to Orton and return.  Three hundred passengers or more availed themselves of the first opportunity to show their appreciation of the enterprising spirit of the managers of the popular Carolina Beach in putting on their line the new, handsome and commodious steamer Sylvan Grove.

The run from Market Dock to Orton and return was accomplished in such rapid time that the excursionists were back before the sun was down, and all were delighted, with the boat, the management and the trip.

Carolina Beach can but grow in popularity.  The manner in which the people responded to the efforts of the management last year but augurs a more successful season for this.  As a place for a day’s recreation it is unsurpassed, and with increased accommodation, more rapid transit, and with the ever popular and proverbial clever Capt. Harper to take charge of the boats and their freight, it cannot fail to draw this season.

To-day the regular schedule for the season opens, and the steamer will make both morning and evening trips to the Beach.  To all who wish a pleasant time and an invigorating salt air bath, we commend the trial of a trip to the coming resort of North Carolina-Carolina Beach.

[Wilmington Star – May 8, 1888]

Family Excursion.

The first family excursion of the season to Harper’s Pier and Carolina Beach was enjoyed by some three or four hundred ladies and gentlemen and children.  The trip up and down the river on the Sylvan Grove was delightful, and the surf bathing at the beach afforded great enjoyment to many.  A singular feature was the absence of rain, which fell in torrents here at midday.

[Wilmington Star – June 2, 1888]

The excursionists to Carolina Beach yesterday had a delightful day of it.  The weather was “as fair as a day in June” could be, with a bright sky, a genial sun and a refreshing breeze from the southwest.  The Sylvan Grove carried down about three hundred and fifty people.  Music and dancing enlivened the trip, and the choicest refreshments were served in abundance.

[Wilmington Star – June 7, 1888]

—Commencing next Tuesday there will be music every afternoon on the Sylvan Grove, by the Italian band.

[Wilmington Star – June 10, 1888]

— The lower Cape Fear is now well supplied with passenger boats.  Besides the Sylvan Grove, running to Carolina Beach, there are four steamers running regularly between Wilmington and Southport-the Queen of St. Johns, Passport, Louise and Bessie.

[Wilmington Star – July 10, 1888]

Germania Band Excursion.

The committee having in charge the arrangements for the excursion of the Germania Band, to be given Thursday, July 12th, on the steamer Sylvan Grove, have been working hard for a week to make their trip a success.  They have engaged the finest musicians to furnish music for dancing, and the Band, with Professor Sim Schoss at their head, will surprise the passengers with their new excellent selections.  Refreshments and meals will be served by the ladies at very reasonable prices.  The boat will make two trips at her regular time.  It is hoped the attendance will be large, as a pleasant time may be expected.

[Wilmington Star – July 11, 1888]

Local Dots.

—  The moonlight excursion advertised to take place on the Sylvan Grove was postponed until to-night on account of the threatening character of the weather.  She will leave her wharf at 8 p. m., and will leave Carolina Beach on the return trip at 11 p. m.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Saturday, July 21, 1888]

— The Sylvan Grove will leave for Carolina Beach at 9:30 a. m. and 2:30 p. m. to-day.  Last train leaves Beach at 9 p. m.  Among the attractions will be fireworks and a grand illumination.

[Wilmington Star – September 7, 1888]

— The excursion given yesterday by the Germania Cornet Band on the Sylvan Grove was a pleasant affair and was well attended.  The boat stopped at Southport, Fort Caswell and other points on the river.

[Wilmington Star – September 13, 1888]

The work of repairing and repainting the steamer Sylvan Grove will be commenced to-morrow morning in order to get her ready for the excursion season.

[Wilmington Messenger – April 14, 1889]

The painters are busy at work on the Sylvan Grove.  She lies at the foot of Nun street, having been taken out of Winter quarters and brought over to this side of the river.

[Wilmington Messenger – April 19, 1889]

The Sylvan Grove.

The steamer Sylvan Grove has been repainted inside and out, and is now ready for the season.  According to the notice among our advertisements, it will be seen that until the season at the Beach opens, she will make regular trips to Southport on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  She will leave Wilmington at 9:20 a. m., and leave Southport at 4 p. m.  The fare for the round trip is 75 cents.

[Wilmington Messenger – May 12, 1889]

No Boat to Carolina Beach on Sundays.

The New Hanover Transit Company has decided not to run the Sylvan Grove or the Passport to Carolina Beach hereafter on Sundays.  This announcement is made upon the statement of the President of the Company, and is therefore authoritative.

[Wilmington Messenger – May 28, 1889]

Fishermen’s Day.

About 125 persons went down to the “Rocks” and the Blackfish Grounds yesterday on the Sylvan Grove, the steamer leaving at 6 a. m. and returning about the same hour in the evening.  The fishermen report good sport at the “Rocks” and some fine fish caught.  The fishing outside at the Blackfish Grounds was not so good, the sea being rough with a high wind; but nevertheless some of the party caught a good many fish.

[Wilmington Star – June 24, 1890]



The Steamer’s Machinery Disabled While

on a Trip to the Blackfish Grounds.

An accident occurred to the steamer Sylvan Grove yesterday morning while she was steaming out to sea with a party of excursionists for the Blackfish waters.  When just outside the bar, about four miles from the “Bell buoy,” her steam-pipe burst at its intersection with the steam-chest, resulting in a great escape of steam and rendering the engine useless.

A signal of distress-a flag union down-was immediately displayed.  It was seen at Southport and in a few minutes the tug Alexander Jones went to the assistance of the disabled steamer.  The U. S. live-saving crew on Oak Island also saw the distress flag flying and signaled the Signal Service observer stationed at Southport.

Officers of Sylvan Grove behaved with conspicuous coolness and courage.  Capt. Harper was just as he always is under trying circumstances, brave and imperturbable.  Engineer Platt was just outside the engine room when the accident occurred; he rushed in through the dense cloud of escaping steam and cut it off from the broken pipe.  The conduct of all the officers, including Mate Wilson, was highly commended by the passengers.

There were about fifty excursionists on board, including a number of ladies and children.  Some were very much frightened, and considerable disgust was expressed at the behavior of a few of the male passengers who became panic-stricken.  Accounts of eye-witnesses generally agree that the ladies showed more deliberation and self-control than did some of the sterner sex.

The disabled steamer was towed up to the city by the tug, arriving at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Until the necessary repairs are made, the Passport will run the trips of the Sylvan Grove to Carolina Beach, and the Bessie will take the place of the Passport.

[Wilmington Star – July 29, 1890]

She Reports Promptly.

The repairs on the popular steamer Sylvan Grove were competed yesterday, and she resumes her place on the Carolina Beach line this morning.  The work was of a rather complicated character, but it was admirably executed by employes of Messrs. Burr & Bailey’s foundry and machine shops, assisted by Mr. Philip Platt, engineer of the steamer.  The casting, a composition of copper and brass, was made by Mr. Adolph Nelson, and the finishing and fitting was done by Messrs. Philip Platt and Price Yopp.  Competent and disinterested judges pronounce the job highly creditable to the skill of Wilmington mechanics and equal to anything of the kind they have ever seen.

[? – ? {verifiy source & date} ]

Excursion on the Sylvan Grove.

The steamer Sylvan Grove having been repaired, will to-day resume her trips to Carolina Beach.  Her machinery has been thoroughly overhauled and is in a better condition than ever.  The steam pipe was repaired by Mr. Adolph Nelson at Burr & Bailey’s shops and Capt. Harper pronounces the work done as well as it could have been done in any shop in America.

The Sylvan Grove will take down the excursion of the Ladies’ Aid Society of Fifth Street church and will make two trips, leaving at 9:30 a. m. and 2:30 p. m.  The steamer Passport will leave at 5:30 p.m., and the fare on her will be 25 cents.  The last train leaves the Beach at 10 o’clock to-night.

[Wilmington Messenger – August 1, 1890]



The Loss $30,000 With Insurance for

$20,000-A New boat Will be Built or

A Railroad Will be Built to Carolina


In yesterday morning’s MESSENGER we chronicled the burning of the steamer Sylvan Grove at Northrop’s wharf on the west side of the Cape Fear River, where she was laid up for the winter.  The flames were first discovered by the watchman at the Carolina Oil and Creosote Works and he sent in the alarm.

There was a watchman, Daniel L. Smith, colored, on board the steamer, but he was asleep in the after cabin, just below the ladies’ saloon.  He states that his first intimation of the fire was when the hurricane deck fell in.  he arose hurriedly and made his escape with difficulty, taking to his skiff which was tied near the cabin.  His opinion is the fire caught from a steamer passing during the day or perhaps caught from the stove pipe running up out of the cabin where he was asleep.  He lost all his effects, except the clothes he wore.

Mr. W. L. Smith, a member of the Southport Steamboat company, which owns the Sylvan Grove, went over to the burning vessel after she had been burning about an hour and a half, thinking probably the watchman was not safe.  Other than this, the boat could not be reached by the fire department.  The Marie played on the fire to prevent the hull from sinking but the fire was too hot, and when it burned to the water’s edge the hull sank.  Only the flag staff could be seen above the water’s edge yesterday morning.

The Sylvan Grove cost the Southport Steamboat Company $30,000 and was insured for $20,000 in several companies represented by New York agencies.  They cannot replace her for $30,000 and consequently their loss over and above insurance will be more than $10,000, including the expense in sending after and bringing out another boat.

The burning of the Sylvan Grove will not be in any way to the disadvantage of Carolina Beach, as the Steamboat company will buy another steamer and have her here in time for the opening of the season.  The directors held an informal meeting yesterday and that much was decided.  They propose this time to select a boat exactly suited to the purpose-that is running trips from Wilmington to Carolina Beach during the summer months.

We learn that parties interested at Masonboro Sound have approached the Steamboat company with a proposition to build a railroad to Carolina Beach instead of buying another steamer to run on the river.  It is desired that the railroad be run by way of Masonboro and citizens owing interests or living there propose to take considerable stock, if the Steamboat company will build the road.  The Steamboat company will hold a meeting soon to consider the matter and we would not be surprised to hear of their deciding to build the road.  At least we understand this much, if the inducements held out to them are of a particularly encouraging nature.

[Wilmington Daily Messenger – January 11, 1891]

The Cape Fear River Steamers

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Posted by on April 29, 2009 in The Boats


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