The lower Cape Fear region was explored in the 1521 and again in 1526 by the Spanish. They chose to move on, due to poor soil and lack of adequate fresh water supplies.

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

The first settlement in the area, Brunswick Town, was located further up the Cape Fear River. Fort Johnston was built at the mouth of the river between 1745 and 1754 to protect the upriver settlements and provide quarantine service for incoming seamen. A small community of river pilots, traders, and fishermen sprang up around the fort.

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

In 1792, Joshua Potts requested that the NC General Assembly commission the town. The town was originally named Smithville, after Benjamin Smith, who had served under General George Washington in the Revolutionary War. He later became Governor of North Carolina.

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Smithville grew as a fishing village and military town --because of its strategic location, Fort Johnston was active in every United States war effort. It also became a popular summer resort, due to the steady sea breezes.

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

In 1795, the town began observing Independence Day. It now host the Official North Carolina 4th of July celebration. Smithville became the county seat of Brunswick County in 1808. (The county seat was moved to Bolivia in 1975.)

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

After the Civil War, businessmen tried to create a major southern port here by combining river transportation and railroads. The name Southport was chosen in 1887 as part of that promotional effort. Though the town never became a major port city, it did gain telegraph service and a coaling dock for steamships.

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Southport was on the river steamer routes until 1925. Railroads did serve the town from 1911 until World War II. In 1966 the NC Department of Transportation located the landing for the Fort Fisher ferry nearby.

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

Vintage photo of historic Southport, NC

 

The Common at Cape Fear Station

The Common at Cape Fear Station

The "Cape Fear Station" community is a collection of homes and estates with a variety of settings from oceanfront locations tucked behind the sand dunes to wooded sites that are virtually hidden beneath the towering oaks of the maritime forest. All of these properties are interconnected via a series of sidewalks, which also run adjacent to and through the Cape Fear Station Common. The community, as well as the common itself, is named after the original lifesaving station which once stood along Bald Head Island's East Beach. The station is long gone, however the properties here have their own style and architectural attributes that make them fit in easily with the southern scene.

Bald Head Island Ferry

Bald Head Island Ferry

Southport is known as the launching point for a number of barrier island adventures and vacations, including the ferry trip to neighboring Bald Head Island. A completely unique experience, the Bald Head Island ferry is one of the only privately run ferries that transport visitors to a North Carolina barrier island is such high volume, and with such an assortment of amenities. From baggage services to incredible passenger lounges, the Bald Head Island ferry allows travelers to arrive to their island destination in style.

Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island, a roughly 5 square mile southern North Carolina barrier island that extends into the Atlantic Ocean, may be a small and secluded island destination, but it makes up for its size with a world of exclusive and elite vacation style.

NC Maritime Museum Souhport

NC Maritime Museum Souhport

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is one of three maritime museums sponsored by the state that lies along the eastern portion of NC. The Southport branch focuses on the maritime history of the lower Cape Fear River, and contains a detailed and fascinating collection that covers shipwrecks, piracy, the Civil War, commercial fishing, hurricanes, and a number of other natural and manmade events that have left a permanent mark on the North Carolina coast. Voted one of the best attractions in Southport by newcomers and frequent vacationers alike, an afternoon at the museum is a must for any coastal lover who wants to dive right into the fascinating history and culture that this region supplies in abundance.