The Steamer CAPE FEAR

04 May

Local Twinklings

The River Queen is to be rebuilt at an early day. One of her engines has been raised and is found to be in good condition.

[Fayetteville Observer and Gazette – Thursday, March 4, 1886]

A New Steamboat – Quick Work.

= Messrs. Bagley & Co ‘s new steamboat, to take the place of the burned River Queen on the river between this city and Fayetteville, will probably be launched to-day from Captain Skinner’s Marine Railway. Work on the boat began under Captain Skinner’s direction, on the 15th of March last, but for the first three weeks he was able to employ only three men on half time, on account of difficulty in getting timber of the proper kind; afterwards, twenty-three men were employed on full time, four of them being from Fayetteville.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – April 30, 1886]

A Wreck Raised.

The hull of the steamer River Queen, which was burned in the great fire in February last and sunk near the wharves above Chesnut street, was raised yesterday by means of a steam dredge boat and towed up the river and beyond the dry dock, where it was left in the marsh, out of the way of boats or other craft. The same parties also took up the hull of the schooner that was destroyed by the same fire, and carried it out of the way.

[Wilmington Star – June 16, 1886]

— The Messrs. Bagley’s new steamboat, to take the place of the burned River Queen, is getting in her boilers at the dry dock. All the wood work of the boat is completed. She will be ready for business in about a week.


— The new steamboat Cape Fear, at the marine railway, is nearly finished. She will be commanded by Capt. Tomlinson, of Fayetteville.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – June 25, 1886]

— The new river steamer Cape Fear, for the Bladen Steamboat Co., is receiving her boiler and machinery at Capt. Skinner’s shipyard. She will be ready to take her place on the river some day next week.

[Wilmington Star – July 9, 1886]

— The new steamboat Cape Fear, under the command of Capt. T. J. Green, will start on her first trip to Fayetteville to day. The new boat takes the place of the steamer Bladen, destroyed in the great fire in February last. She is a light draft boat, about the size of the Bladen, and has accommodations for about twenty first-class passengers. The Cape Fear was built at Capt. Skinner’s ship-yard in this city.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – July 30, 1886]



Vessels Wholly Engaged in Domestic


Few people have any idea of the number of steamboats, small schooners and other craft, tributary to the trade and commerce of Wilmington and plying upon the waters of the Cape Fear, Northeast and Black rivers, and along the coast to New River, Shallotte, Little River, S. C., and other places adjacent. The total number of craft of all descriptions engaged in this local traffic and in river and harbor towage is forty-three—sixteen of which are propelled by steam. And if to these are added the revenue cutter and the government steamers engaged on river improvements the total number is forty-eight. Not the least among these craft are a number of flat-boats that make regular trips between this city and points in Pender, Bladen, Brunswick, Sampson, and Onslow counties, and carry from two to four hundred barrels of naval stores.

A carefully compiled statement of these vessels and boats, made by Capt. J. M. Morrison, of the Produce Exchange, is as follows:

Steamers engaged in river and harbor towage—Passport, Capt. J. W. Harper; Blanche, Capt. Jacobs; Italian, Capt. J. T. Harper; Louise, Capt. Woodsides, (mail boat to Smithville); Marie, Capt. Williams; Pet, Capt. Taft; Dudine, Capt. Bowdoin.

River steamers to Fayetteville—D. Murchison, Capt. Smith; Cape Fear, Capt. Green; A. P. Hurt, Capt. Robinson, J. C. Stewart, Capt. Bagley.

Black River steamers—Delta, Capt. Hubbard; Lisbon, Capt. Black; Excelsior, Capt. Burkhimer; Susie, Capt. Snell.

Flat-boats bringing naval stores—Cudger Larkins;, from Long Creek, Pender; Sessom’s from Beatty’s Bridge, Bladen; McIntire’s, from Long Creek, Pender; Pound’s, from Town Creek, Brunswick; Lon Johnson’s, from Beatty’s Bridge, Bladen; Littleton’s, from Town Creek, Brunswick; Johnson & Son’s, from Ingold, Sampson; Shaw & black’s from Clear Run, Sampson; Herring & Peterson’s, from Ingold, Sampson; Marshburn’s, from Shaken, Onslow.

Schooners of less than seventy-five tons.

—E. Francis, from Little River; Snow Storm, Little River; Minnie Ward, New River; Lorenzo, New River; William, Shallotte; Mary Wheeler, Calabash; Katie Edwards, New River; Argyle, Lockwood’s Folly; Stonewall, New River; Gold Leaf, New River; Fairfield, Smithville; Rosa, New River; Jos. H. Neff, Smithville; Maggie, New River; John Griffith, Orton, Mary and Ray, New River.

The Government vessels in port are the Revenue Cutter Colfax and the steam tugs Gen. Wright, Woodbury, Easton and Oklahoma.

[Wilmington Star – August 13, 1886]

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]

Fire on the River

A flat-boat loaded with cotton and naval stores, in tow of the steamer D. Murchison, just arrived from Fayetteville, caught fire and burned to the water’s edge about a mile above the city, yesterday at 11 a. m. the freight on the flat consisted of 124 bales of cotton, 4 barrels of spirits of turpentine and 178 casks of rosin. The four casks of turpentine, 25 bales of cotton, and a few barrels of rosin were thrown overboard and saved. The rest of the cargo was burned with the boat. The loss on freight was fully covered; Messrs. Williams & Murchison, the consignees, having insurance to the amount of $6,000, in the Hartford of Connecticut, Phenix of Brooklyn, and the Home of North Carolina, with Messrs. Atkinson & Manning. The flat-boat was not insured.

The officers of the Murchison claim that the fire was caused by sparks from the smoke-stack of the steamer Cape Fear; the officers of the latter boat, however, say that they smelt something burning before they reached the flat, and as they passed called to the hands on board that something was on fire, and almost immediately afterwards saw one of the bales of cotton in flames.

The burning flat was made fast to the shore, but before it was entirely consumed the lines parted and the boat drifted down stream, lodging on the opposite side of the river just above Point Peter. It was towed up the river again by the tug Marie, and subsequently the “Atlantic” fire engine was sent up on a lighter to extinguish the flames. The “Atlantic” was brought back to the city about 6 p. m.

[Wilmington Star – November 26, 1886]


Mr. James G. Bagley died last night at his residence in this city, from an attack of malarial fever, supposed to have been contracted in Florida, from whence he returned to Wilmington about a week ago. Mr. Bagley had been engaged in the steamboat business on the Cape Fear for several years, being the owner of the steamer River Queen, destroyed by fire in March last, and part owner of the steamer J. C. Stewart, which ran on the river between Wilmington and Fayetteville until a few months ago when the boat was sold to parties in Georgia or Florida. The funeral of deceased will take place at half past # o’clock this afternoon, from the Second Presbyterian church.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – January 21, 1887] {see original, this part cut out}

BLADEN STEAM BOAT CO. – We regret to learn that Capt. T. J. Green so long connected with the boating business on the Cape Fear River has been compelled on account of ill health to tender his resignation as Capt of the Str. Cape Fear.  Capt. Green was a model captain, always attentive, polite and cheerful, and his retirement is a severe loss to the Company and traveling community.  Complimentary resolutions were passed by the Stockholders,  expressing regret at his resignation and the necessity causing it.  Mr. R. H. Tomlinson, who has been connected with this company for the past two years under Capt. Green, was elected to fill the vacancy, he is in every way competent to discharge the duties.  He is a clever, genial gentleman  The same Agts. at Fayetteville and Wilmington are retained.

[Fayetteville Observer – February 10, 1887]


The Steamer Cape Fear is being repainted.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, April 21, 1887]

— The steamer Cape Fear has been chartered to run to the colored camp meeting grounds at Gander Hall, a few miles down the river. Yesterday carpenters were at work on the boat, putting in benches on the lower deck, to accommodate passengers. The camp meeting opens to-day.

[Wilmington Star – May 27, 1887]

Fatal Accident on the River.

Information was brought to the city yesterday by the steamer Hurt, that a Mr. Brennon, a passenger on the steamer Cape Fear, which left here Thursday afternoon for Fayetteville, fell from the lower deck of the steamer into the river and was drowned. The accident happened when the Cape Fear was about eighteen miles from Wilmington, where the water is very deep. Brennon was a Canadian, in the employ of Mr. A. Y. Wilson, at Dawson’s Landing. It is supposed that he was struck b the wheel of the steamer, as his hat found floating on the water, had a large hole torn in it. The body of the drowned man was not recovered.

[Wilmington Star – June 18, 1887]

Body Found.

The body of Mr. John Brennon, of Bladen county, who fell overboard from the steamer Cape Fear and was drowned near the “Devil’s Elbow,” while the boat was on her trip up the river, last Thursday, was discovered by officers of the same steamer on the return of the boat last Sunday. It was floating in the water, fastened by a rope to a tree on the river bank, about thirteen miles above this city. It is supposed that the body had been found and secured, by persons who had gone to notify the coroner of the county. Capt. Tomlinson, of the Cape Fear, had the remains of the unfortunate man covered with a tarpaulin, as protection from the birds, and upon the arrival of the boat here notified the friends of the deceased. An uudertaker {misspelled} with a coffin went up on the Cape Fear yesterday afternoon, to remove the body to Dawson, Bladen county, the home of the deceased, for interment. Mr. Brennon was a native of Canada, but had married in Bladen county, where he leaves a wife and one child. His friends say that he had about sixty dollars in money on his person when he left this city for home last Thursday.

[Wilmington Star – June 21, 1887]

DROWNED IN THE CAPE FEAR.—We learn that a Mr. Brennon, a Canadian, who lives at Dawson’s Landing, when returning on the Steamer Cape Fear, fell from the lower deck of the steamer and was drowned. The accident happened about eighteen miles above Wilmington, where the water is very deep.

Capt. Tomlinson, of the Steamer Cape Fear, found the body last Sunday on his return trip, about thirteen miles above Wilmington. He covered the body with tarpaulin and notified his friends in Wilmington.


There have been several excursions to Carolina Beach from this place recently. One left yesterday morning, via steamer Cape Fear, Capt. Tomlinson.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, August 18, 1887]

The steamer Cape Fear, which left here last week for Carolina Beach, gathered in a goodly number before she arrived in Wilmington. Willis’ Creek, Tar Heel, White Oak, Elizabeth, Sugar Loaf and White Hall, all contributed their quota, and the number when she reached Wilmington was about one hundred and twenty-five. Dancing and all sorts of fun kept the party in good spirits, and they had a good time.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, August 25, 1887]

The steamer Cape Fear, Capt. Tomlinson, keeps up her weekly excursions to Carolina Beach with good success, not neglecting, either, to take on large freights.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, September 15, 1887]

— The steamer Cape Fear arrived from Fayetteville yesterday afternoon with several passengers and a large freight, including 256 bales of cotton.

[Wilmington Star – October 5, 1887]

Steamer Cape Fear at Landing

A New Steamboat.

Capt. Sam Skinner is building a steamboat at his shipyard at the foot of Church street. This new addition to the river fleet will plough the muddy waters of the Cape Fear and run between Wilmington and Fayetteville. She is intended for a freight and passenger boat, will be 110 feet in length, eighteen feet breadth of beam, and will have about the same freighting capacity as the Cape Fear or the Murchison. It is expected that she will be finished about the first of January. Capt. Green, the popular commander of the North State for so many years, will have charge of the new steamer.

[Wilmington Star – November 4, 1887]

A Missing Boat Hand.

Jim Armstrong, a colored man employed on board the steamer Cape Fear, is reported missing, and it is feared has been drowned. About 4 o’clock last Saturday morning Armstrong came on board the boat and laid down in the engine room, after which nothing was seen of him. His disappearance was not noticed until after the steamer left Fayetteville for Wilmington. His hat, shoes and coat were found on the boat. He is said to have been addicted to walking in his sleep, and his friends are apprehensive that he came to his death by drowning.

[Wilmington Star – December 28, 1887]

REDUCED RATES.—The steamers on the Cape Fear will convey passengers to Wilmington during the meetings of the Evangelist Pearson at greatly reduced rates. See advertisement.


The freshet in the river has driven the fishermen to the shore, and shad are again scarce.

The tremendous rain of Saturday night and Sunday put the Cape Fear on another boom, and by Tuesday night it had risen thirty feet.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, March 15, 1888]


–Persons desiring to hear the great evangelist, Rev. N. G. Pearson, who is now holding services in Wilmington, are offered an opportunity by the owners of the steamer Cape Fear to spend Sunday and Monday in Wilmington. See notice.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, March 22, 1888]

— The steamer Cape Fear, from Fayetteville, brought down thirty passengers, most of whom came to attend services at the Tabernacle and hear Rev. Mr. Pearson. The Cape Fear left last night at 10 o’clock on her return trip.

[Wilmington Star – March 27, 1888]

— The steamer Cape Fear, from Fayetteville, brought down forty-one passengers, nearly all coming to attend the meetings at the Tabernacle. The Cape Fear left on the return trip at 10 o’clock last night.

[Wilmington Star – April 10, 1888]

— The steamer Cape Fear has gone upon the marine railway at Capt. S. W. Skinner’s ship yard, for a general overhauling, and to fix the boat up for the better accommodation of excursionists this summer.

[Wilmington Star – May 1, 1888]

STEAMER CAPE FEAR.—The above named steamer, which has for some time past been running regularly between this place and Wilmington, under command of Capt. R. H. Tomlinson, has been put upon the ways at Wilmington for thorough repairs. It is the intention of the company to repaint and refit her, and make her in all respects first class, so that they may be ready for the large patronage expected in excursions to Wilmington this summer.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, May 3, 1888]

Steamer Cape Fear.

The steamer Cape Fear came out from the dock at Skinner’s shipyard yesterday, looking as bright and neat as a new pin. The boat has been thoroughly overhauled and repainted from stem to stern and will this week take her place on the river fully equipped for the excursion season, which it is confidently expected will be a leading feature in the traffic of the up-river boats this summer. Capt. Tomlinson, the commander of the Cape Fear, is one of the most popular men on the river, and under his control the boat will get her full share of the business.

[Wilmington Star – May 13, 1888]

— The steamer Cape Fear left for Fayetteville yesterday, with a light freight and several passengers.

[Wilmington Star – May 15, 1888]

CAROLINA BEACH.—We have been favored with a beautiful view of this new established watering place, now made more convenient and comfortable to health seekers. It is refreshing to find our energetic men opening up at our doors places of beauty that have been hidden away so long as to be regarded as among the things that were not.

These places, while offering to the invalid and to pleasure-seekers all that the more fashionable resorts of the North can present, give at the same time a degree of home-comfort that can be found nowhere else. Our people will find here near home, an opportunity never before open to them, of resting awhile from the cares and business of life, breathing in vigor, strength and renewed energy for home duties.

Situated only a few miles below Wilmington, with fine steamers plying to and fro every day, at very little cost, it offers many inducements to those who can only leave home for a few days, and who wish to bathe in the refreshing waters of the ocean. One meets there, too, home people and friends from all parts of the state. In fact, it is to become for us what the crowded watering places of the north are to health and pleasure-seekers there.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, May 17, 1888]

The Steamer Cape Fear Overhauled.


[Wilmington Star.]

The steamer Cape Fear, which for two weeks has been on the railway at Skinner’s shipyard for repairs, has been overhauled and will resume her regular trips to Fayetteville to morrow. She has been caulked all over and painted inside and out, and presents quite a neat appearance. Captain R. H. Tomlinson, her clever master, says he is now ready for the excursion season, and expects to bring crowds of people to Wilmington this summer. The public will now find the Cape Fear’s accommodations first rate.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, May 17, 1888]

— The Cape Fear brought a large number of colored excursionists from Fayetteville to spend the Fourth in this city.

[Wilmington Star – July 6, 1888]

The Marine Parade.

A meeting of masters of steamboats was held yesterday evening to make arrangements for the grand marine parade, to take place on the river on the 24th inst. Capts. Williams and Crapon were appointed a committee to draft rules and regulations to govern the parade, to report at a meeting on Saturday evening next. There will be twenty-seven steamboats in the parade.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Thursday, July 19, 1888]

Local Dots.

— The marine parade, first suggested by Capt. E. D. Williams, as he informed a STAR representative, is likely to prove an immense success.



— The steamer Cape Fear, Capt. Tomlinson, is detained at this port while her machinery is being overhauled.

— The steamer A. P. Hurt, Capt. Robeson, having completed repairs to machinery, cleared for Fayetteville yesterday afternoon.

— The steamer Murchison, Capt. Smith, from Fayetteville, arrived about 7 p. m. yesterday. The captain reports a low stage of water in the river, with about two feet on the shoals.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Sunday, July 22, 1888]


The Programme Arranged for To-day

Boats to form at 3 p. m. on the west side of the river, the line commencing at Point Peter and extending up the river alongside of the timer pen. Boats to come into line as hereinafter named;

1st    Vertner, Capt. Morton.

2d.    Ida Louise, Capt. Evans.

3d.    Oklahoma, Capt. Stewart.

4th.    Navassa, Capt. Thornton.

5th.    Boss, Capt. Manning.

6th.    Louise, Capt. Sellers.

7th.    Bessie, Capt. Crapon.

8th.    Pet, Capt. Taft.

9th.    Craighill, Capt. J. H. Williams.

10th.    Enterprise, Capt. Ward.

11th.    Acme, Capt. Taylor.

12th.    Lisbon, Capt. Black.

13th.    Delta, Capt. Sherman.

14th.    Easton, Capt. Kinyon.

15th.    Italian, Capt. J. T. Harper.

16th.    Blanche, Capt. Jacobs.

17th.    Passport, Capt. Snell.

18th.    Murchison, Capt. Smith.

19th.    Hurt, Capt. Robeson.

21th.    Sylvan Grove, Capt. J. W. Harper.

22nd.Queen of St. John, Capt. Paddison.

23rd.    U. S. steamer Colfax, respectfully invited to join the parade.

Steamer Marie, Capt. E D. Williams, will act as the starting boat and see that the line is kept in order.


Starting from Point Peter, proceeding in mid-stream down the river. When the leading boat is opposite Market Dock, at a signal from the Marie, each boat will give one long blast of the steam whistle when opposite the Creosote Works. Proceeding down the river to Black Buoy, opposite the Dram Tree, rounding the buoy, turning from the eastward to westward, following the west side of the river up opposite to the Champion Compress. As each boat arrives opposite the Compress it will give three blasts of the steam whistle, turn and proceed to its dock.

Boats are requested to display all their bunting. It is especially requested that all boats will use extraordinary caution while in the line, and when breaking line, give the proper signals at the proper time, in order to avoid any accident.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Tuesday, July 24, 1888]

Local Dots.

— The steamers Cape Fear and Hurt brought a large number of visitors to the city yesterday from Fayetteville and points along the river to witness the parade.



A Gallant Display of Marine Craft in

Honor of the State Guard and the

Visit of His Excellency Gov. Scales.

The marine parade early in the afternoon was witnessed by a multitude of people. The river front all along the city was thronged with spectators, who covered the wharves and filled the offices and buildings and even swarmed on the house-tops. Besides these, the steamers Sylvan Grove, Passport, Queen of St. John’s and Cape Fear were crowded with passengers, who had embarked to witness the grand pageant.

The steamboats which were to take part in the parade had been busy all the forenoon preparing for the event, and by 3 o’clock were covered from bow to stern with flags and bunting. The Marie, under command of Capt. E. D. Williams, which acted as the directing boat, and the Sylvan Grove were particularly resplendent, and the handsome revenue steamer Colfax sported all her gay colors.

Promptly at 3 p. m. the boats began to get in line in accordance with the published programme. The Colfax took position on the west side of the river, opposite the Custom House, her with anchor down, two of her ports open and guns run out, ready as it seemed, for anything that might happen. One after the other the boats taking part in the parade steamed up to Point Peter and took the places assigned them, and at half past 3 p. m. the leading boat, the Vertner, at a signal from the Marie led off, and was followed by the other boats in the following order: Ida Louise, Capt. Evans; Boss, Capt. Shaw; Navassa, Capt. Thornton; Louise, Capt. Sellers; Craighill, Capt. J. H. Williams; Pet, Capt. Taft; Acme, Capt. Taylor; Delta, Capt. Sherman; Easton, Capt. Kenyon; Italian, Capt. J. t. Harper; Blanche, Capt. Jacobs; Passport, Capt. Snell; Cape Fear, Capt. Tomlinson; Sylvan Grove, Capt. J. W. Harper, and Queen of St. Johns, Capt. Paddison.

The boats steamed down the river in line, each giving one blast of her steam whistle as she passed the Colfax and receiving an answering signal from the latter, and as the last boat passed all the whistles were blown, blending in one long deafening blast.

It was in the programme that Gov. Scales should view the parade from the deck of the Colfax, but there was delay in the arrival of the party, and it was not until the last boat had passed that the Governor’s party drove down to Market street dock, where the cutter’s boats had been waiting some time in readiness to receive them. The party consisted of Gov. Scales and wife, Lieut. Gov. Stedman, wife and daughter several members of the Governor’s staff, Collector Robinson, Mayor Fowler, Judge O. P. Meares and others. The visitors were received by Capt. Moore and his officers with all due courtesy, the State flag of North Carolina was run up on the foremast of the cutter and a salute of fifteen guns fired in honor of the Governor. When the last gun was fired, a beautiful wreath or circle of smoke ascended slowly from its muzzle as high as the masthead and floated northward. It was seen by many persons on shore, who spoke of it as a singular and noticeable occurrence.

By this time the leading boats had reached and rounded the buoy opposite the Dram Tree, and the procession of steamers reformed, passing the Colfax again, but in two ranks, and again with redoubled blasts from the steam whistles of all the boats. After steaming a short distance up the river the parade was dismissed and the boats returned to their respective wharves.

All in all the display was a magnificent one, and great credit is due to Capt. Edgar D. Williams and the other captains of the fleet, for the manner in which it was conducted.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, July 25, 1888]

The Hurt, Murchison and Cape Fear steamboats took part in the grand marine parade at Wilmington on Tuesday. The people of Wilmington all enter heartily in everything that attracts or is for the good of the city. A spirit that will do much to ensure her future progress.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, July 26, 1888]

— The steamer Cape Fear brought down a number of excursionists from places along the Cape Fear. Many of them went down to Carolina Beach. The Cape Fear left on her upward trip about half-past 7 p. m.

[Wilmington Star – August 3, 1888]

Steamer Murchison Sold.

The steamer D. Murchison, of the Express Steamboat Co., of which Messrs. Williams & Murchison are the agents in this city, has been sold. The purchasers are the Cape Fear & People’s Company, represented by the steamer A. P. Hurt, and the Bladen Steamboat Company, represented by the steamer Cape Fear. The price paid for the Murchison is $12,000. She will continue to run on the Cape Fear between Wilmington and Fayetteville as a passenger and freight boat, under the command of Capt. James C. Smith, her days of arrival and departure here being the same as heretofore.

[ ? – January 11, 1889]

Two Small Fires, and a Section of Ordinance.

An old tree on Front street between Ann and Nunn caught fire yesterday between 12 and 1 o’clock from a spark blown into it from the smokestack of the steamer Cape Fear. A strong gale was blowing at the time, and danger threatened. A hose reel was sent to the scene, and a stream thrown on the burning tree.

Shortly after an alarm of fire was turned in from box 21, caused by the burning of an old shed roof on the premises of Mr, {incorrect punctuation} J. F. Lord, at the foot of Ann street. This, too, was supposed to have originated from a spark from a river steamer at the wharf. Damage small.

In this connection the following section from a City Ordinance on River and Navigation is pertinent:

SECTION 4. All steamboats plying on the river, within the corporate limits of the city, shall be provided with spark arresters, or some other appliance for preventing the escape of sparks or cinders, and the exhaust shall not be discharged into the smoke stack. And the owners, or Captain, of any boat moving by steam within the limits of the city, without having such safety appliances as aforesaid, shall be fined $50 for each and every such boat which may so move.

[Wilmington Messenger – February 19, 1889]

Capt. J. C. Smith, who has been master of the steamer Cape Fear for some time, has resigned that position, and will be in charge of the transfer steamer of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad in this city.

[Wilmington Messenger – May 26, 1889]

— Fayetteville Observer:

—– Capt. J. C. Smith, a well-known and very efficient steamboat man, has recently relinquished his command of the Murchison, being succeeded by Capt. R. H. Tomlinson, and will have charge of the new ferry boat to ply between Point Peter and the city wharves of the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley railroad at Wilmington. The boat is in construction at Wilmington, Del., whither Capt. Smith goes to remain until it is completed, and bring it around to Wilmington.

[Wilmington Star – September 24, 1889]

NOTE:  The steam tug COMPTON was the vessel built at Pusey, Jones & Company in Wilmington, Delaware.  Excellent photo of the COMPTON at the wharf in Wilmington, DE.

The River Boats.

Owing to the low stage of water in the river, communication between Wlimington {misspelled} and Fayetteville by steamers has been stopped for several days. The steamer Hurt and Merchisou {misspelled & inverted type?} are tied up at Fayetteville and the Cape Fear was at Elizabethtown, up to yesterday afternoon, when she left with a flat in tow for this city.

[Wilmington Star – July 18, 1890]

The Cape Fear and Its Pleasant Travel.

The steamer Murchison has recently been overhauled , painted inside and out, its state-rooms renovated, and the craft put in thorough order from the water line to the smokestack-tip – and she will soon be “walking the waters like a thing of life” under the efficient command of Capt. R. H. Tomlinson. The same “heroic treatment” is in store for the Cape Fear, she having already modestly gone into retirement in view of the new “rigging” about to be donned.

You may gird us all about with the iron rail, intersect us and network us; but the fondness is still within us for the good old-time river riding – the dolce far niento of travel – with its charming glimpses of still life gracing every curve of the picturesque stream.

[Fayetteville Observer – June 11, 1891.]



Of Capt. R. H. Tomlinson of the Steamer Cape Fear.

Maj. T. D. Love received a telegram from Fayetteville yesterday morning announcing the death in that city very suddenly on Monday night, of Capt. R. H. Tomlinson, well known in this city as the master of the steamer Cape Fear. His death is said to have resulted from congestion of the lungs. Capt. Tomlinson’s wife and three children who were spending the summer at Carolina Beach, were at once informed of the distressing event, and came up to this city and left for Fayetteville by train on the C. F. & Y. V. railroad yesterday afternoon.

Capt. Tomlinson had been suffering from some months past with rheumatism, and had not been running regularly on the steamer Cape Fear recently. He was about 33 years of ago, [age] a native of Fayetteville, and enjoyed the respect and esteem of a large circle of acquaintances, and the warm friendship of many who deeply sympathise [sympathize] with his family in their sad bereavement.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, August 12, 1891]


Capt. R. H. Tomlinson died at his residence on Ramsey street in this city on Monday night, 10th inst., after an illness of only a few days. We are not justified in the statement by any expression of medical or surgical opinion, but some of his friends think that his death was probably somewhat accelerated by internal injuries received from a fall which he had during his travel on the railroad between this city and Charleston.

The deceased was for some time actively engaged in mercantile business in Fayetteville, but was subsequently connected with the boating service on the Cape Fear river, and at the time of his death was commander of the steamer Murchison, and in his official relations with the public added to the circle of friends in his native place. He married Miss Jane Monaghan, daughter of the late lamented B. Monaghan, of this place, who, with three children, survives him.

The funeral services took place from the residence yesterday morning at 10 o’clock, Rev. Dr. J. C. Huske, of St. John’s Episcopal Church, conducting the ceremonies, and the remains were escorted to the grave by the Knights of Pythias, of which order Capt. Tomlinson was a member.

[Fayetteville Observer – August 13, 1891.]

Captain Irving Robinson (Courtesy Bladen County Library via Neill Lindsay.)

The steamer Cape Fear could not make her regular trip to Wilmington Monday on account of the river being frozen.

[Fayetteville Observer – January 19, 1893]



— “Commodore” Howe says he intends to try the river for shad to-day.

— The steamer Cape Fear, on her last trip up the river, stuck in the ice about five miles below Elizabethtown, but got through after some hard work. The agent of the steamboat line in Fayetteville, in a letter to Mr. Madden, the agent here, says that no boats will be able to run until the ice breaks up.

— At Kelly’s Cove, some forty miles above Wilmington, the ice Sunday morning last was strong enough to bear a man half way across the river.

[Wilmington Star – January 19, 1893]



The Hurt and Cape Fear Left on the Hillside at Fayetteville by the Receding Waters—The Latter a Total Loss.

Information was received here yesterday that disaster had befallen the two steamboats plying on the river between this city and Fayetteville.

A dispatch to the STAR received last evening gave confirmation to the report, stating that the rapidly falling waters had left the steamboats Cape Fear and Hurt high on the hillside above the water, at Fayetteville, and that both boats were considerably damaged.

Capt. W. A. Robeson, master of the steamer Hurt, and Mr. W. S. Cook, manager of the Cape Fear River Transportation Company, arrived in the city last night from Fayetteville by train on the C.F.&Y.V.R.R. They stated that both steamboats were left on the river bank by the receding waters, that the Hurt had sustained no damage, but the Cape Fear had broken apart amidships; her boiler had rolled into the river, and that she was a complete wreck.

The Cape Fear is a wooden boat and has been running on the river many years. She was valued at $7,500.

The Hurt has an iron hull. If she is uninjured, as supposed, she will soon be again afloat and in service.

The cause of the disaster is said to have been due to the negligence of the watchmen in charge of the boats. It occurred between 4 and 5 o’clock yesterday morning.

The accident is greatly deplored in Wilmington. Both boats, with their commanders, Capt. Irving Robinson of the Cape Fear and Capt. A. W. Robeson of the Hurt, were popular with people along the river, and all others having business with them.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Tue., January 15, 1895]

Steamers Cape Fear & A. P. Hurt wrecked 1895 (watercolor filter)

Steamers Wrecked at their Wharves.

The steamers Cape Fear and A. P. Hurt were left high and dry on the banks of the Cape Fear at Campellton Sunday morning by the receding waters of the great flood. This most unusual occurrence created a great sensation in this city and from sunrise to sunset the streets leading to the river were black with people, some walking, some on horseback, some in private and livery vehicles, (run as during a Fair,) and many others on bicycles, all presenting a scene of the liveliest kind. The OBSERVER reporter was on the scene early and in an interview with the watchmen could learn nothing satisfactory, in fact they seemed disposed to give no explanation at all. Unusual precautions had been taken by the managers to prevent any such accident, and extra heavy and long hawsers had been attached to the bank so as to give the steamers plenty of play. Sunday morning found both boats aground, with the river 25 feet below and fast falling. The Cape Fear was lodged on a ridge and the weight of her machinery, etc., soon caused her to break in half and topple over. She is a complete wreck.

The Hurt was fortunately grounded square on the ridge and having an iron hull is very little, if any at all damaged.

The Cape Fear which is almost a total loss was valued at $7,500. She was owned by the Bladen Steamboat Company, composed of the following: A. H. Slocomb, R. M. Nimocks, and Mrs. R. H. Tomlinson of this city and Dr. Armand J. DeRosset and the estates of C. S. and Major T. D. Love, of Wilmington. The Cape Fear was built at Wilmington about 12 years ago under the supervision of Capt. T. J. Green, and has done good service on the Cape Fear ever since. She has been under the command of Capt. Irving Robeson for several years. The Hurt is on a bluff nearly fifty feet above low water and apparently intact. It is estimated that it will cost over a thousand dollars to float her. Experts say she will have to be placed in a cradle and a marine railway built to run her on—although we should think some simpler means could be devised. The Hurt, which is valued at $10,000, is owned by the Cape Fear and People’s Steamboat Company, composed of the following: Capt. W. A. Robeson, Col. W. S. Cook and Mr. J. H. Currie, of this city, and Mr. Duncan McEachern, of Wilmington. She was built at Wilmington, Delaware, in 1861, and was considered then a very fine boat. Both boats were under the management of the Cape Fear River Transportation Company of which Col. W. S. Cook is manager, with headquarters in this city. The loss of the Cape Fear and grounding of the Hurt is certainly a great disaster, but the present management are full of pluck and Col. Cook is now in Wilmington trying to secure steamers to take their place.

Of the three large and well equipped river steamers which were plowing the waters of the Cape Fear less than six months ago, not one is afloat, the Murchison having been burned to the water’s edge near Wilmington last summer.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, January 17, 1895]

Echoes of the Freshet.

From all accounts the damage done along the banks of the Cape Fear by the great freshet was phenomenally small. The river is now about at its normal condition. At a meeting of the steamboat stockholders in this city Tuesday it was decided to rebuild the Murchison, the iron hull of which is at the company’s wharf in Campbellton. The contract was given to Capt. W. S. Skinner, of Wilmington, who says he will have the steamer ready for service in six weeks.

The Hurt is still where the waters left her but we are informed that she will, as soon as possible, be railroaded into the water, fifty feet below. The Cape Fear is, as we stated last week, a total wreck and is fit for little more than kindling wood.

There are various opinions as to the height of the Butler freshet in comparison with the Sherman freshet. The most authentic places the former at about four inches above the latter.

[Fayetteville Observer – January 24, 1895.]

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