In August of 1871, the boiler, of the Steamer R. E. LEE, exploded at Thames Shoals (sometimes referenced as Timms or Thomas Shoals) about 14 miles below Fayetteville, N. C.
The explosion killed and wounded several persons. Capt. William Skinner was blown from his boat into the Cape Fear river, but was rescued. Capt. Skinner’s 1st cousin, Capt. Samuel Skinner was nearby, aboard the Steamer A. P. HURT, and the crew of that vessel also jumped into the fray to aid and rescue survivors. Zach. Roberts, a negro pilot, but not piloting the R. E. LEE that day, was also injured. Zach. Roberts died in February, 1913 and Capt. William W. Skinner died later that year on November 17th.
The Steamer GOVERNOR WORTH arrived on the Cape Fear in the spring of 1866. She was named in honor of the then current North Carolina governor, Jonathan Worth. About 1886, the steamer was sold to the Jacksonville, Tampa & Key West Railroad and Capt. R. P. “Dick” Paddison was placed in command of her. Her name was changed to the ROCKLEDGE and she ran on the Indian River for several years. As the railroad was being built, the steamer followed the work crews southward, acting as sleeping quarters. As the first hotel was being built in Miami, the ROCKLEDGE was used as a residence, and later a gambling casino was operated aboard her. Eventually she wilted into a state of decay with little more than her steel hull remaining. On Thursday, November 13th, 1913, she was towed to the three-mile limit in the Atlantic ocean and sunk.
On November 18th, 1913 the Steamer C. W. LYON caught fire and burned about 20 miles above Wilmington, NC. Piloting the vessel at the time of the fire was Barney Baldwin, and the captain was W. F. Register. Capt. Henry W. Edge was a mate aboard the vessel at the time and was hindered from getting to shore by the fire. He jumped into the swollen Cape Fear river, and although attempts were made to throw him aid, he was swept down river and drowned. His body was recovered several weeks later.
Capt. Henry Edge was master of the Steamer CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE, which had broken in two at her slip at the foot of Red Cross Street on the Wilmington waterfront, on September 29, 1913. She had arrived on the Cape Fear river in January of 1903. No expense had been spared in building the vessel which assured that no profit would ever be made either.
With the sinking of the CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE and the burning of the C. W. LYON, there was no river transportation on the Cape Fear river between Fayetteville and Wilmington, NC. The Steamer THELMA was put into operation later that month, November, and would be the last paddlewheel steamboat to run on the river.