The Steamer HALCYON

20 May

NEW RIVER STEAMER.—Maj. R. M. Orrell, of Fayetteville, is now building a new steamer for the Cape Fear trade.  The boat is nearly completed, and will, probably, make her first trip about the 15th proximo.  She is to be a first-class steamer, having all the essentials for both freight and passengers.  The machinery is that formerly used in the old favorite, the “Kate McLaurin,” and is almost as good as new.

We wish Major Orrell all that success he so richly deserves.  In the face of obstacles that would have appalled a man of less energy, he has built two boats, since the war, doing all the work at home, and thus setting an example of enterprise worthy to be followed.

As soon as the new steamer is “ready for action,” the little steamer “Orrell” will give way to her consort, and be laid up for repairs.

[Wilmington Evening Star – Monday Evening, September 23, 1867]

     THE “HALCYON. — Maj. Orrell’s new steamer, so long expected, came down in gallant style yesterday morning, bearing a large and valuable cargo of produce, consisting principally of rosin, cotton, and pretty girls, the latter a production peculiar to Fayetteville.  The “Halcyon” fully comes up to the expectations of the public, and takes rank among the neatest and most comfortable of our river steamers, being fitted up with taste and skill.  She will be devoted to the passenger business, and, therefore, under the law, will not bring down spirits of turpentine.  Her dimensions are 120 feet length, 21 feet beam, 4 1/2 feet depth of hold, and 16 inches draft when light.  Her speed is good, and fully up to the requirements of a comfortable passenger boat.  Captain Daily informed us that her capacity was about seven hundred barrels of rosin, but upon the basis that “a miss is as good as a mile,” we think he has fallen far short of the truth, judging from her cargo of yesterday.  Messrs. A. McRimmon & Co., are the agents in this city of the Orrell line.

     In naming his trim little boat, Maj. Orrell has but given expression to the hopeful spirit with which he regards the future, and we are assured his new enterprise will do much towards restoring those halcyon days once enjoyed in common by Wilmington and Fayetteville.

[? – December 21, 1867]

NEW STEAMER.— Major R. M. Orrell has just completed his new steamboat, the “Halcyon,” and has already very successfully made one or two trips between this place and Wilmington.  The Halcyon is a very trim and pretty passenger and freight steamer, with accommodations for 30 first-class passengers.  She is tastefully and elegantly fitted up with every comfort and convenience.  Her length is 112 feet, beam 19 feet, hold 4 ½ feet, and tonnage between 600 and 700 barrels.  She runs easily and with very good speed.

We cannot omit to notice here the enterprise displayed in the building of the Halcyon.  Maj. Orrell has had great difficulties to overcome, but with his accustomed energy and perseverance he has obviated them all.  His boat was built here on our banks, the workmen being employed in our midst, and their wages being expended for our benefit many a man would have waited for “capital” and “resources;” Maj. Orrell made both by industry and hard work.

[The Fayetteville News – Tuesday, December 31, 1867]

THE STEAMER HALCYON. — We learn that the cylinder cast in Wilmington, Del. For this new and snug little steamer, has arrived, and will be put in some time next week.  With her machinery in good repair, the Halcyon will be able to run with any steamer on the river.  Friend Orrell’s indefatigable energy deserves to be rewarded, and we bespeak for him an increased share of the public patronage.

[Wilmington Star – July 19, 1868]


     The steamer Halcyon arrived here Wednesday with five hundred barrels of rosin shipped by parties at Averasboro, thirty miles above Fayetteville.  The Halcyon found no difficulty in ascending the river to that point, but the water fell considerably while she was loading, and, in returning, she had to “shoot Niagara,” on a small scale, at Jones’ Lock.  The old dam at this point is the only obstruction to navigation between Fayetteville and Averasboro, with a fair stage of water in the river, and we trust some means may be devised for removing the nuisance, not withstanding the fact that our sapient Legislators have passed an act which, in effect, requires that any one removing obstructions to navigation in the Cape Fear river shall pay a fine of ten thousand dollars.  Major Orrell, the “heavy man” in the “Halcyon Steamboat Company,” is “chocked full” of enterprise, and made the pioneer trip to Averasboro, on the old Henrietta, many years ago.

     We note with pleasure the fact that Capt. Samuel W. Skinner, of the steamer A. P. Hurt, in connection with Mr. Wright, the former mate of that craft, has built a handsome little boat to run between Fayetteville and Averasboro, with fair prospects of a lucrative business.  her model is said to be beautiful, and though now running as a “flat,” it is the intention of her owners to place the necessary machinery in her, at an early day, and run her as a steamer.

     Capt. Skinner and Major Orrell are two of our most popular steamboatmen, and we wish them all the success to which their many good qualities entitle them.

[? – September 4, 1868]

COLLISION. – A slight collision took place on Friday night last, about 11 o’clock, at a point on the river some thirty miles above this city, between the steamers Halcyon and Marion. It seems that the Halcyon was coming down and the Marion going up the river.

When they approached each other, the whistle of the Halcyon was blown to indicate which side of the river would be taken, but the rudder of the Marion having become clogged or disabled in some way, it was impossible to avoid a collision. Fortunately on a near approach the Halcyon commenced backing, and the force of the blow upon the Marion was lost. The latter boat was struck about midway the gunnel, which was considerably broken up – otherwise no damage was done and only a heavy shock experienced. Both boats then proceeded on their respective voyages.

[Wilmington Daily Journal —  Sunday Morning, November, 29, 1868]

     HALCYON. — This steamer has performed quite a feat.  After ascending the river over twenty miles above Fayetteville, the bonny steamer turned her bow towards our city, and though heavily laden, reached here in twelve hours; thereby traveling a distance of 142 miles in the above mentioned time.

     The Halcyon has navigated the Cape Fear higher above Fayetteville than has any steamboat since the war.

[Wilmington Star – December 20, 1868]

STEAMBOATS.—We learn that several of the steamboats that ply between Fayetteville and Wilmington are aground at various points in the river.  The Gov. Worth is grounded at “Cypress,” the Hurt at Elizabethtown, the Lee and Halcyon a few miles below Fayetteville.

Old river men pronounce the Cape Fear to be lower than it has been for several seasons, and unless a change takes place we may consider ourselves estranged from river intercourse with Fayetteville until next Fall, when the plentiful Autumn rains shall have again raised the Cape Fear to the dignity of a navigable stream.

[?? – July 15, 1869]



— ONE OF THEM GOES DOWN. — Intelligence was received in this city yesterday morning that an accident had occurred to one of the river steamers, and various and conflicting reports were in circulation concerning it.  Wishing to arrive at the truth in relation to the disaster we called on a gentleman whom we knew to be conversant with the facts and obtained from him the following particulars:  On Monday night, about 9 o’clock, as the steamers Governor Worth and Halcyon were steaming up the river, nearly side by side, and when near the point known as John O. Daniels’ place, about 35 miles above this city, the suction of the mud or sand operated in such a manner on the wheel of the Halcyon as to cause her to swing suddenly around, when a flat which the Worth was towing up came in collision with the Halcyon near her bows, the force of the blow driving a hole in her hull below the surface of the water and causing her to sink in about fifteen minutes after the disaster.  She is now lying on her side about half way under the water.  She had a pretty fair freight on at the time, a portion of which will be saved.  We are glad to say that no lives were lost and that no injury was sustained by any one on board.  It is expected that she will be righted in the course of a few days, and the necessary repairs put upon her to enable her to resume her regular trips.

[Wilmington Star – December 1, 1869]

SEVERE DISASTER.—LOSS OF THE STR. HALCYON ON THE CAPE FEAR, 35 MILES ABOVE WILMINGTON.—Last Monday evening, 29th ult. The steamers Halcyon and Gov. Worth were on their way up the river from Wilmington to Fayetteville.  The boats passed each other alternately, and about 9 o’clock, when 35 miles from Wilmington, while the Worth was passing ahead, the Halcyon turned across the river by some mismanagement, making collision with the Worth.  The Worth was not damaged, but the prow of the Halcyon was so shattered and damaged, that she commenced leaking and sunk in a few minutes in 15 feet water with most of her cargo.  The boat’s crew, passengers, baggage and some of the freight were saved and transferred to the Worth, which came back to the rescue.

The Worth had a flat boat in tow, or the loss of life and property on the Halcyon would have been greater.  The Halcyon on becoming disabled, floated at once along side the flat by which a speedy escape was afforded to those aboard.  The Halcyon had on 300 sacks salt, consigned by F. W. Kerchner, Wilmington, to Col. J. B. Starr here, 10 barrels sugar for W. A Whitehead & Co., iron for Charles Glover, 1 box Millinery goods for Mrs. I. Dodd, and other goods we are unable to state, all lost.  One box of card clothing, &c., for Beaver Creek Co., was saved in damaged condition.  The entire cargo was worth some $1,500, all lost except the box of card material worth some $250.

The boat was not insured we learn, and indeed we hear none of the boats on our river are insured.  We suppose the marine insurance on the goods lost extended no farther than Wilmington.  The Halcyon was owned and run by R. M. Orrell & Co., and built by them here in 1865-‘6, and cost, probably, some $12,000 or $15,000.  This was a light, fast boat, well built and in good order.  The engine and machinery had been used before, but had been repaired and refitted into the Halcyon.  This is a heavy loss and we hope the boat may be recovered, fitted up and again go on her regular trips.  It will cost probably $1,000 or more to recover the boat, and as much more, no doubt, to repair her, while the cargo and furniture are a total loss.  We hear that blame attaches to the pilot for the misfortune. Right here, we would say that all our boats need better management and more rigid regulations.

[The Eagle – Fayetteville, N.C. – Thursday, December 2, 1869]


  —  The steamer Halcyon, Capt. Orrell, made her appearance at our wharves yesterday, after an absence of some weeks, looking as staunch and seaworthy as ever.  It will be remembered that this steamer was sunk by a collision with the Worth, about 35 miles up the river, some time since, but was subsequently raised and carried to Fayetteville, where she underwent a thorough overhauling, and is now none the worse for the severe usage she underwent.  In fact, the Captain informs us that she is even more staunch than before the accident, being one of the safest boats on the river.  She is also being handsomely painted and, as before stated, her hold has been so arranged by the placing of bulkheads at suitable distances from each other, that if any accident were to happen to her in the future, such, for instance as in the case of her collision with the Worth, she would not sink, as the water would be confined to that particular portion of her hold in which the accdent might occur.

[Wilmington Star – January 1, 1870]

Boats and Navigation on the

Cape Fear River.


Our river transportation is becoming more active and extensive.  This, with the continued large production of Naval Stores, and the very large increase in cotton farming, shows plainly that the substantial business of this section is improving.  The Cape Fear Navigation Company now reorganized is to open out the river, and keep it in better navigable order.

There are now two new boats building, another in contemplation, three lines of steamers, and three other separate boats, as follows:  The Cape Fear Steamboat Company have two boats, the Hurt, run by Capt. Sam. W. Skinner, and the Gov. Worth, run by Capt. A. P. Hurt.  The Hurt makes two trips to Wilmington a week and the Gov Worth about three trips in two weeks—both excellent boats for passengers and freight.  This company embraces the Messrs. Worth, Lilly, Hurt and others.

The Express Steam boat Company have two boats, each making two trips a week, the R. E. Lee, run by Capt. Wm. Skinner, and the D. Murchison run by Capt. A. Garrison.  Both are new and fast going steamers and do a large business.  This company embraces Messrs. Williams, Murchison, Lutterloh, &c., we believe.  The Peoples’ Line is a new company recently organized embracing F. W. Kerchner, Adrian & Vollers, Smith & Strauss, W. A. Whitehead & Co.  Capt. T. J. Green and others, as we learn.  This company has the Marion run by Capt. Phillips, and which was formerly owned by the Messrs Mallet, Capt. T. J. Green, formerly of the R. E. Lee, is superintending the business of the company, and they are building a new boat at Fayetteville, which is expected to be in use by May next.  The capacity of this new steamer will be about 700 bbls. and 36 passengers, and will be some larger than the Hurt.

The People’s Line Company (capital of $25,000) expect to build another boat during the year perhaps, and with the three, they may accept mail contract and also connect with the Rail Road, both ways, three times a week.

The Juniper also a light new boat is run by Capt. A. Worth, but not on regular schedule.  This boat is owned and used by the Messrs. Bullard, Willard Bros. & c., and some week or two ago went up to Averasboro during a freshet, and received there a heavy load of naval stores, and could not return until the freshet yesterday.  The Halcyon has been repaired and is again on her regular trips, run by Capt R M Orrell.  There has been some proposition by the People’s Line to purchase this steamer.  The Orrell, a light boat is in damaged condition, and we hear is to be repaired and used for freight transportation—perhaps above Fayetteville.

Capt. Samuel W. Skinner is also building a small light steamer, the Little Sam, for use as we hear, on Waccamaw river to Georgetown in S. C.  It will be finished in a few weeks.

Thus we see there are seven steamers actively and profitably engaged in our business now—half of them new and all in good condition, besides three more to be in use on the river during the year.  With such facilities for cheap water transportation, Fayetteville can certainly receive the products of central North Carolina and furnish supplies in return, on better terms, than any other town in the state.  We think arrangements might be made soon for travelers from Raleigh to Wilmington to come this way and spend the night on the boats—all within 24 hours either way, and for eight or ten dollars.

[The Eagle – Thursday, January 20, 1870]

Halcyon Part Interest Advertisement

Wilmington Star - March 8, 1870

ACCIDENT TO STEAMER HALCYON.—On Wednesday evening last, on the arrival of the steamer Halcyon, Capt. Jno. M. Clark, at Pee Dee Bridge, on the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad, through some derangement of the machinery or fault of the Engineer, the boat ran against the bridge.  The hurricane deck was completely shattered as far back as the smokestack.  No damage of any consequence to machinery.  Col. W. S. G. Andrews, of Wilmington, had his leg broken, another passenger was treated to a ducking, and we were considerably demoralized.  We made the best time getting off of that boat that we have made any time since the close of the war.

No blame attaches to Cap. Clark for the accident.—

Marlborough Times.


The daily arrival and departure of the Steamers, and the increased activity in the movement of naval stores give a decided air of business and life at our River wharves.

[The Eagle – Fayetteville, N. C. – Thursday, April 27, 1871]


—  Capt. Jno. K. Dailey, second officer of the Pee Dee steamer Halcyon, went up the Cape Fear yesterday on a short visit to his friends at Fayetteville.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Thursday, August 24, 1871]


—  The Hawkinsville Dispatch says:  “Mr. Eli K. Wilcox, of Irwin county, with his brother, Capt. Wilcox, of Darien, will soon have a steamboat on the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers.  They purchased the Halcyon some months ago, and have thoroughly refitted and repaired it for the coming season.”  The Halcyon is now at DeLormes wharf in this city, where it is being repaired, and in a short time will be ready for business.

[Darien Gazette  —  Friday Evening, October 15, 1875]


—  The repairs on the steamer Halcyon were completed last week.  The U. S. Steamboat Inspectors examined both boiler and hull last Friday, and pronounced them good and granted Mr. Wilcox a permit to run, and he immediately left for Brunswick for Messrs. Wilcox & Churchill’s goods; which were brought to that city by steamship from New York, and returned to this city about dark on Saturdy last.  Capt. J. M. Holmes had charge of the boat on this occasion.

[Darien Gazette – Friday Evening, December 17, 1875]

NOTES: I currently do not know that the steamer Halcyon, built on the Cape Fear by R. M. Orrell, is the same boat as the one which ran on the Altamaha, Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers in Georgia.  It is likely that it is the same vessel, since other Cape Fear steamers made their way here, including: the Colville, Cumberland, Governor Worth, J. C. Stewart, and the North State.

Burning of the Steamer Halcyon”Same notice from the Reidsville Enterprise that was in the Hawkinsville Dispatch.  – Darien Times Gazette Saturday Morning, October 6, 1883.]

The Cape Fear River Steamers

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Posted by on May 20, 2009 in The Boats


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