The Cape Fear Navigation Company – Part I

06 Jul

Navigation Company.—The important undertaking of removing the obstructions in Cape Fear River, is already commenced and will be prosecuted with great vigor—The Company have employed Mr. James A#ernethy, a skillful engineer, to arrange and direct the proposed improvements.  Under his inspection, we understand, that the Locks and ### ## ## be forthwith constructed, and the whole plan completed without delay.  The resources of the Company are amply sufficient to perfect their intentions and will render Fayetteville, as it was by nature intended to be, one of the most important towns in the Union.  Its resources from a thriving and industrious back country are inexhaustible and when a free intercourse with the sea-board is effected, by the exertions of this Company, we may safely calculate upon its more extensive growth and prosperity.



STOCKHOLDERS, under the late Charter of the Deep and Haw-River Navigation Company, are required to deposit their Evidences of Stock and receive in lien thereof the Scrip of the Cape-Fear Navigation Company.

J. W. WRIGHT, Sec’ry.

[Carolina Observer – Thursday Morning, August 22, 1816]

CFNC Notice - The American 10171816

CFNC Notice - The American 10171816

CFNC Notice to Flat Builders - The American 11211816

CFNC Notice to Flat Builders - The American 11211816

Lots for Sale


THE Cape-Fear Navigation Company having commenced the improvement of the river above Fayetteville, invite the attention of Merchants and Mechanics to the town of Haywood.  The lands on which the town is laid out were purchased by the company several years ago, and part of the lots were then sold in considerable number of the residue of the lots will be exposed to sale on the premises, on the 4th and 5th of September next, on a credit of six and twelve months.  This town is situate near the centre of the state, at the confluence of the Haw and Deep Rivers, convenient to the greatest part of the tobacco and wheat country which have trades to the Cape Fear.  The company expect that within less then two years, a commodious navigation will be opened to this town for boats carrying fifty hogsheads of tobacco.  They assure the public that no exertions will be spared on their part to effect this object.  Preparations are now making by sundry individuals to erect bridges across the rivers, and to establish extensive Brick Yards at this place.  Several Carpenters are about to settle themselves in the town, and the Company hope that persons disposed to establish themselves there will meet with no difficulty in procuring either materials or workmen.

H. BRANSON, President.

[The American —  Fayetteville, N. C.  —  Thursday July 23, 1818]

Labourers Wanted

On the CAPE FEAR RIVER, between


IT is my intention to recommence the works for the improvement of the Cape Fear river, between Fayetteville and Wilmington, as early as the season will admit.

Any number of laborers who choose to apply will find immediate employment.

Owners of Negroes will do well to embrace this opportunity of engaging them in a work where the wages are liberal and promptly paid, the provisions are wholesome and abundant and every attention will be paid to their cleanliness and health.


State Engineer

[Carolina Observer – Thursday, June 2, 1825]

The Cape-Fear Navigation Company.—

This body held its annual meeting in this town during the last week.  The former officers were re-elected, and a dividend of 4 per cent. Payable on the 1st of October next, was declared.

We understand, with regret, that the Board of Internal Improvement, has as yet, obtained the services of no Civil Engineer, since Mr. Fulton resigned.—Without wishing or intending to impute any possible blame to the distinguished gentlemen who now compose the Board, towards all of whom we entertain the highest respect, we must be allowed to express our fears, that on account of the absence of an Engineer, the affairs of this Company are likely to fall into the same disorder and ruinous state as they were some years ago.  It is understood that the Dredging Machine is at work below Wilmington, that two persons are engaged at a salary of $1,000 each, to superintend working hands on the river above Wilmington, and that one hundred labourers are or will be engaged to work under them, and the whole of this work, and all this expenditure, is going on without any Engineer to direct the operations.

Will no experience teach us wisdom?  Are the resources of the State and the Company always to be frittered away in expenditures which avail nothing?

If the Board of Internal Improvement are unable to procure the services of a competent Engineer, it would be much better, we think, to suspend all work on the river until they can do so, than to employ men who are not Engineers and who will probably do more harm than good.—We are recollect how many thousand dollars were expended on the river while Messrs. Abernathy, & Co. were the superintendants, but none of us can point out any benefit from their work.  The truth is, that civil engineering is a science not to be learned in a day, and it is worse than folly to be employing men in that department who know nothing about it.  It cannot be denied that the spirit of internal improvement has suffered a retrograde motion in this State.  This has been ascribed to the want of success in the works heretofore begun.  But is a failure in the beginning to operate as a perpetual bar to further effort?  Because complete success has not attended our first designs, are we to retire from the work and abandon it in despair?  Will not the example of other countries, and of other States in our country, animate us to further and to higher efforts?  Shall we shut our eyes to the splendid example of New York, to what Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware are doing?  Is North-Carolina always to be in the rear of the march towards wealth and improvement?  With a hardy, industrious, and patriotic population, with a climate as salubrious as any in the world, with a  soil naturally good, and highly susceptible of improvement, with numerous rivers and water courses which might be made navigable, and with a rich treasury, shall we not diligently improve those means which a beneficent Creator has bestowed upon us?  Shall we be contented to see our population gradually decreasing by emigration to the Westward, to see our produce waggoned to the neighboring States to build up their towns, or to see it sent to their cities to swell the amount of their exports?  If no feeling of personal convenience will animate, us, shall we be insensible to state pride?  What North-Carolinian is there who does not feel the glow of mortified pride when he is told that the little State of Maine exports domestic produce, annually, to the value of $964,664, while our exports are only $553,390?  And that Alabama, of yesterday’s growth, exports upwards of $138,500 more than we do?

We shall resume this subject again soon.

[North Carolina Journal – Wednesday, June 7, 1826]

In our number of June 7th, in speaking of the Cape-Fear Navigation Company, we expressed our regret, “that the Board of Internal Improvements had not employed a Civil Engineer, and our fears, that for the want of one, the affairs of the Company would again fall into disorder; that two persons, as we understood, were engaged at a salary of $1,000 each to superintend hands working on the River, and that 100 labourers were or would be engaged to work under them.”  The information, respecting the superintendants and the labourers, was obtained from a gentleman of the highest respectability, who is a Stockholder in the Company, and was present at the meeting.  The matter was openly spoken of both in and out of doors, and formed, we believe, the subject of a memorial or remonstrance form the Company to the Board of Internal Improvements.  But the Editors of the Register say that it is “not correct,” that two superintendants of the work on Cape-Fear are engaged at a salary of $1,000 each.”  As, we presume, this is semi-official information, we must consider it as correct, though it is a matter past controversy, that the Cape-Fear Company, at their late meeting, believed that Hinton James and Otway Burns, Esquires, were engaged as superintendants at $1,000 each, and that each was to have the charge of a gang of 50 hands; and under the influence of this belief, and of the “fears and apprehensions” of the fallacy of this policy, they unanimously adopted a resolution instructing their Board of Directors to “memorialize the Board of Internal Improvements upon the necessity of procuring a Civil Engineer as soon as practicable, and to represent to them, the probably ruinous consequences to the interests of the Company, and the cause of Internal Improvements at large, of expending any money in opening the river until a suitable Engineer is employed.’ Thus you see, gentlemen, that “fears and regrets” were not confined to our bosoms, but were felt by all those most immediately interested in the navigation of the Cape-Fear.

That the public may understand why the Cape-Fear Navigation Company deemed it expedient to memorialize the Board of Internal Improvements on this subject, it may be necessary for us to state, that in the Session of 1823, the General Assembly passed an act authorizing the Board of Internal Improvements to subscribe, on behalf of the State, the sum of $25,000 to the capital stock of the Cape-Fear Navigation Company, on condition that the Stockholders should give their assent to a reduction of the Capital Stock from its nominal value of one hundred dollars for each share, to a sum not exceeding fifty dollars per share, and that “the President and Directors of the Company shall consent, in writing, that the Board of Internal Improvements shall have the sole and exclusive direction of the operations of the works, the making of contracts for the same, and all the improvements to be made on the River.” Be it remembered, that at this time the State had in its employment an Engineer who stood high in public confidence, and there was every expectation that he or some other Engineer would continue to be employed, until the great work of Internal Improvement was effected.—Under these views, and with these expectations, the Stockholders of the Company did, in February, 1824, accept of the proposition of the State, and upon the required terms; so that from that time, to the present, the Board of Internal Improvements “have had the sole and exclusive directions of the operations of the works, the making of contracts for the same, and all the improvements to be made on the River. “   The Navigation Company know, by dear bought experience, how idle, how worse than idle, how ruinous it is to have “superintendants” working on the river with a gang of hands under them, unless their operations be directed by a  skillful and competent Engineer.  Year after year had they ried the experiment, and although their “superintendants” were industrious, and as “intelligent,” and as “efficient” as any which are now employed, it always resulted in abortion and loss—thousands of dollars were spent, and for want of the requisite practical skill, the navigation of the river, instead of being amended, became more dangerous and troublesome.  Hence they could not perceive, without regret that the Board of Internal Improvements, even without the lights which their experience had shed upon them, were pursuing the same path which always had led to disappointment and loss.

But, say the Editors of the register, “the Board have acted wisely not to engage, at present, a Civil Engineer in the place of Mr. Fulton,” as “neither the affairs of the Cape-Fear Company, nor those of any other Company, will suffer for the want of such an officer—for the following reasons:  1st, Because our last Legislature was decidedly opposed to the employment of an engineer.  2d, Because there is no object at present which calls for the services of one.” In these two reasons we behold a virtual abandonment of the cause of Internal Improvement; and when the Secretary of the Board, who is supposed to speak an official language, justifies the non-employment of an Engineer on the ground “that there is no object at present which calls for one,” well might a Virginia editor exclaim “that North-Carolina had abandoned the subject of Internal Improvements in disgust.”  What! Are we to be told that because the last Legislature were opposed to the employment of an Engineer, that therefore the interests of Improvement will not suffer for the want of one?  Yielding to this body all the respect due to them, we ask, are they infallible?  Is there every act formed in the depths of wisdom?—But if the next Legislature should not be opposed to the employment of an Engineer, will it then be expedient to employ one?  Why this versatility of opinion?  Why should the march of public improvement be thus interrupted and disordered to answer temporary purposes?  Besides the shock thus given to this all-pervading interest, we conceive that the Stockholders in the Cape-R{F}ear Navigation Company are, by the non-employment of an Engineer, injured in their essential rights; for we state unhesitatingly, that a principal inducement with them in surrendering to the Board of Internal Improvements, the exclusive right of directing the operations on the Cape-Fear River, was the well-grounded expectation, that those operations, and all the contracts for them, would be made and conducted under and by a “competent and suitable Engineer.”

In the second reason assigned by the Editors of the Register, why a Civil Engineer is not wanted, we would give, as a sufficient answer for the present, the resolution of the Stockholders of the Navigation Company, before quoted.  We have already occupied so much space, that we must defer what we have to say on this point, to another time.


Freshet.—On Monday last the waters of the Cape-Fear rose ten feet in height, but have fallen so rapidly since as to render the passage of Steam-boats, for Wilmington to this place, still difficult if not impracticable.

[North Carolina Journal – Wednesday, June 21, 1826]


AT the annual meeting of the Stockholders of the Cape Fear Navigation Company, in June last, a Dividend of 4 per cent. On the Capital Stock of said Company was declared; which dividend will be payable on the 1st day of October next.


Fayetteville, N. C. Aug. 9th, 1826

  1. J. C.

[North Carolina Journal – Wednesday, July 12, 1826]

The Board of Internal Improvements met in this town on Friday last, and the Cape Fear Navigation Company also held a meeting on the same day; and after finishing their business, the Members of the Board proceeded, on Saturday morning, in the steam Boat Henrietta, for Wilmington, for the purpose of viewing the river and the work carrying on below Wilmington, and, also, the operations of the dredging machine.  Measures were taken for resuming the exertions of the Navigation Company to remove any obstructions which may yet remain to a free navigation between this town and Wilmington.  We are informed by the Raleigh Register, that the Board intend visiting the Club Foot and Harlow Creek canal before they return, which they are required to inspect and report on, before the Public Treasurer is authorized to advance the $12,000, loaned to that corporation by the Legislature; and as this tour of examination will detain the Governor from the Seat of Government two or three weeks, persons having business with him can make application to him on his route, or, should the business be urgent, and it not convenient to meet him, they can make application to his Private Secretary at Raleigh, who will dispatch an express to him.

[North Carolina Journal –March 28, 1827]


Take Notice.


WHEREAS, persons owning lands on the banks of the Cape Fear River do frequently, and contrary to law, fall timber into the said river, and thereby obstruct the navigation, and involve the Cape Fear Navigation company in considerable expense in removing the same—Therefore, this is to give notice, that from and after this time, the said company are determined to prosecute to the uttermost extent of the law, all persons so offending; and reward of Five Dollars will be paid, on conviction, of any person giving information of the same to the Subscriber.  By order of the President and Directors.


[Carolina Observer – Thursday Morning, December 24, 1829]

The Cape Fear River Steamers

Comments Off on The Cape Fear Navigation Company – Part I

Posted by on July 6, 2009 in Uncategorized


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: