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

 

Maritime Market at Bald Head Island

Maritime Market at Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island shoppers on the hunt for fresh fare and home cooked meals to go will fall in love with the local Maritime Market, a one-stop source for virtually everything under the sun, from fresh produce to hand-prepared picnic lunches. A local staple for years, and veritably as old as the Bald Head Island region itself, the Bald Head Island market has virtually everything a visitor of good taste will need to ensure a great vacation.

Bald Head Woods

Bald Head Woods

But despite being an instrumental component to the island's very existence, and a protector against erosion and storms, Bald Head Woods serves a more visible role as a fun, outdoor destination for visitors to enjoy off the beach. A popular spot with bird watchers, hikers and nature fans alike, this rustic destination allows vacationers to easily step off the beaten path, and dive into Bald Head Island's natural landscape.

Bald Head Ferry

Bald Head Ferry

The Bald Head Island Ferry Terminal is the gateway to exploring the small, but popular paradise of Bald Head Island. Located on the northern edge of the roughly 5 square mile island, and bordering the Cape Fear River, the terminal deposits visitors in the heart of the action. With two major property management companies located within walking distance, in addition to the Bald Head Island Marina, the Marsh Harbor Inn, and a number of transportation options, first-time visitors will have so problem stepping off the docks and finding their way towards a great weekly vacation, or a fun day trip on the beach.

Southport, NC Shelling Guide

Southport, NC Shelling Guide

Southport can easily serve as a launching point for a myriad of shelling adventures. From this small community on the Cape Fear River, visitors can board a ferry to Bald Head Island, Fort Fisher, or even take a cruise to smaller and lesser-known island destinations like Zeke’s Island Reserve. As a result, visitors will find that a myriad of shelling beaches are just a short boat ride (or drive) away, leading to miles of shoreline to explore, and long sun-filled days of combing and enjoying the local beaches.