The Steamer PASSPORT

12 Dec

The Excursion Monday.

One of the most enjoyable and pleasant excursions of the season was that on the steamer Passport, Capt. Harper, on Monday, the 5th.  The crowd was limited to just enough to make everybody comfortable, and it was altogether one of the most orderly and well behaved excursions we have ever participated in.  The boat left her wharf at about half past 8 o’clock A. M., touched at Fort Fisher, stopped at Smithville a few minutes, and then steamed to Fort Caswell, where a large number of the excursionists, with the Italian String Band disembarked, while the remainder went out to the Blackfish grounds.  Those who stopped at Caswell amused themselves by walking about among the ruins of the fort, in strolling on the beach, and in dancing in the building erected there for that purpose.

When the boat arrived from the Blackfish grounds there was a rush to get on board, but the crowd were turned back, with the information that it would take fully a half hour to wash off the decks and cleanse the boat, which told a tale that it needed not the ghastly countenances and demure aspect of many of those who ventured out among the “rolling billows” to verify.  On the homeward trip the boat stopped for an hour at Smithville, again touched at Fort Fisher, to take in those who had stopped at the rocks to fish, and reached her wharf at a very reasonable hour, the excursionists being delighted with their trip, much of the pleasure of which was due to the admirable arrangements of the Committee.

The Passport was very handsomely decorated with flags in honor of the day and the occasion.

Owing to the short notice given the excursion to the Hamme plantation, on the Steamer John Dawson, Capt. Sherman, was not as largely patronized as would otherwise have been the case, but about forty ladies and gentlemen embarked for the trip and enjoyed it immensely.  Dancing was kept up all the way there and back, and also in the building used for that purpose on the grounds.  The boat returned to her wharf about half-past 4 o’clock, no untoward accident or incident happening to mar the pleasure of the voyage.

The day was a very pleasant one for excursions.



–  There is no improvement in the river.  There was a rise of about three inches a few days ago, but it has fallen off again.  The boats are now refusing to take passengers on account of the delay they will experience in reaching Fayetteville.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, July 7, 1880]

The Military Excursion on the Steamer Passport Yesterday.

The military excursion yesterday turned out to be (as we expected) and exceedingly pleasant affair, and those who participated in it are to be congratulated that they had an opportunity of exchanging the heated atmosphere of the city, where the thermometer was ranging among the nineties, for refreshing and invigorating ocean breezes.  There were more than two hundred persons on board, and a season of enjoyment, unmarred by a single untoward circumstance, was the verdict of all who participated in the excursion.

The most of the members of the Wilmington Light Infantry, under whose auspices the excursion was given, were not in uniform, only a color guard of about twelve or fourteen being required to attire themselves in military rig.

The excursionists visited the forts and other places of interest below, and also went a short distance outside.

On the way up the votes were counted to ascertain who had been “elected” as the most popular lady on board, and it was found that the honor belonged to Miss Hill, of Goldsboro, to whom the handsome floral tribute, in the form of a cross-bow, was awarded, Lt. E. A. Oldham, of the New South, making the presentation speech.

Returning, the boat reached her wharf about 6 o’clock.

[Wilmington Morning Star —  Friday, June 30, 1882]

From Up the River.

The steamer Cape Fear, Capt. Green, brought down a party of excursionists, about fifty in number, from Prospect Hall and other points along the river.  On their arrival here the party embarked on the Passport and went down to Smithville, returning about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and leaving for their homes on the upward trip of the Cape Fear.

Capt. Green reports that he noticed an unusual commotion in the river and heard a faint rumbling noise Wednesday night, about the time the earthquake shock was felt here.

In Fayetteville, Tuesday night, the violence of the shocks drove people into the streets from their houses, exciting great alarm.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – September 10, 1886]


On July 20, 1892, the steamer Passport was sold to a number of gentlemen from Brunswick, Georgia, and it was to be taken there on the 15th of August, after which it would be put in service on the Satilla River at that place.

Beginning on September 1, 1892, it was announced, the U. S. Mail between Southport, N. C., and Wilmington, N. C., will go by the “raccoon route”, instead of b y steamer as heretofore.  This was decided by the Post Office authorities at Washington, and to the people of the city, it was a step backward.

Mail carried through the country by horseback, it was pointed out, required 9 ½ hours going and 9 ½ hours coming, whereas the water route required from two to three hours each way.  This means a difference of twelve hours.  By the change the government saved only twenty cents per day.

[Excerpt from Land of the Golden River Historical Events and Stories of Southeastern North Carolina and the Lower Cape Fear – Volume One Old Times on the Seacoast 1526 to 1970 by Lewis Philip Hall]

“…steamer Passport, three times a week from Brunswick to the Satilla River, carrying passengers and freight…” [from the 1895 Report of the Chief of Engineers U.S. Army ]

“…Brunswick people charted the commodious steamer Passport and they came over to help hurrah.” [ Camden County’s Fair – The Macon Telegraph October 14, 1899 |  Woodbine, Ga., Oct 13 ]

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