Blogging has taken a back seat lately. I have several projects that are taking all my writing energy and it seems have been spending too many days sitting in long meetings. Although I have many things I want to blog about, I just haven’t had the time or energy to be very productive. But that’ll change! As I have a few minutes, let me take advantage of the Travel Tip Thursday blog prompt and tell you about a special place in North Carolina.
“The Rocks” is a special place located as far south as one can drive in New Hanover County. Once you get across Snow’s Cut Bridge (the intercoastal waterway) on US 421, keep driving till the road ends and you’ll be at the rocks. If you want to travel on from here, you’ll either have to turn around or take the ferry across the river to Southport. “The Rocks” is an engineering feat that was designed to close off “New Inlet” which was silting up the main channel to the Cape Fear River.
In the 18th Century, a hurricane created a new inlet into the Cape Fear River and, maybe because folks back then had revolution on their mind, they named it the “New Inlet.” This new inlet was shallower than the main channel, but because it cut time for those shipping to the north, by keeping them from having to navigate the river on down past Smith Island (Baldhead) and then out into the sea for a ways to get around Frying Pan Shoals, the inlet was seen as a blessing.
During the Civil War, having a second entrance into the Cape Fear River helped Wilmington to become a major city as blockade runners took advantage of the two inlets. With Frying Pan Shoals sticking out nearly fifty miles into the water, the Union had to have more ships to guard the mouth of the river and fast shallow draft blockade runners enjoyed an advantage of getting close to the beach and then running into the inlet before they could be caught by Union warships. The inlet was too shallow for most warships. To further discourage such warships, the Confederates built a series of land batteries were installed along the lower part of the peninsula. If the blockade runners could make it close to the beach, they could run just outside the breakers and be protected by these batteries with their large rifled cannons as they made their way down the coast to the inlet. At the mouth of the inlet, Battery Buchanan protected them as they sailed into the river. (The photo above is looking back toward Battery Buchanan).This photo was taken out on the rocks. Although the rocks are slippery and during high tide can get wet, it is (or at least it was as I haven't done it in years) possible to walk all the way over to Zeke Island.
Today, the New Inlet is closed, but there is a large tidal area between “The Rocks” and the beach head to be explored. Much of this area is protected wetlands and now a National Estuarine Research Reserve. One of the best ways to explore it is by kayak. In the future, I’ll do a post on Fort Fisher, which is located a few miles north of “The Rocks.” Another sight to see is the North Carolina Aquarium that's located next to Fort Fisher. It's one of three aquariums the state runs along the coast.