I haven’t done a travel post in a while as we have been uncharacteristically staying at home this year. While it has been a good time for learning about marketing The Gemstone Chronicles, Lana and I miss seeing new places. Part of that was due to the lovely and adorable Lana having back surgery, but she is on the mend and we decided to make a recent weekend trip to Wilmington, NC. Why Wilmington? I visited the city for a business trip and thought it was a place Lana would enjoy, so when the opportunity arose for the visit, we took it!
Now for a little history about Wilmington. Native Americans long inhabited the area. English colonists began to settle the area in the 1720s. Originally called New Carthage, then New Liverpool, and finally, around 1739 or 1740, Wilmington was incorporated. Below is a picture of the oldest home in Wilmington.
Naval stores and lumber formed much of Wilmington’s economy. Naval stores were resin-based products used in building and maintaining wooden ships. Much of the labor in Wilmington’s early history came from indentured servants (poor immigrants who had to work for a prescribed number of years to gain their freedom in the colonies). As the indentured servants gained their freedom, African slave labor replaced their labor. By the late 1760s, the slave population accounted for over 60% of the Wilmington area population.
Wilmington and Wars:
Wilmington was a hotbed of resistance as the colonies moved toward the American Revolution and they even had their own version of the Sons of Liberty! Many important protests occurred in Wilmington:
- In 1764, Parliament passed the Sugar Act and Wilmington resident Cornelius Harnett rallied opposition to the Act
- In 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act and, in Feb 1766, two ships without stamped papers were seized by the British. Up to 1000 men, lead by Cornelius Harnett confronted William Tryon, the Governor, about the ships. Tryon refused to release the ships, so the men seized the ships and forced the customs officers and public officials to swear never to issue stamped paper. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766.
During the American Civil War, Wilmington was a major port and a busy base for the Confederacy and the private blockade runners, who brought badly needed supplies from England. Union forces captured the city in February 1865, but the majority of the battles of the war took place some distance from the Wilmington. Many of its Antebellum period structures survived.
I could go on about the history of the area, but I want to talk about our stay. If you want more Wilmington history, there are tons of articles about it and I encourage you to read about it. Fascinating stuff! Anyway, we stayed just a few miles from the historic downtown area of Wilmington and took full advantage of the location. We had dinner at The Oceania, a nice moderately priced restaurant at Wrightsville Beach. We started out eating outside on the deck, but it was raining and windy, so we moved inside and watched the wild surf through the windows. Nice way to spend some time enjoying the food, and the company!
Cape Fear River:
Saturday, the weather was warmer, the sun was out, and we took a boat tour of the Cape Fear River. I learned some cool stuff about the river. It is a tidal river and the rise and fall of the tides can change the river depth by 5 feet! You can also tell where the salt begins to be replaced with fresher water because the cypress trees aren’t dead. Until that point, there are tons of dead cypress trees along the river’s edge. The locals call them “ghost trees” because of their pale color. Here are some shots from our river trip:
The Cape Fear River has dark water, too. This is due to the tannins that leach out of the cypress trees. Wilmington water has to be filtered to remove the tannins. Below is a shot of the water churned up by the boat. Note the dark brown color.
One of the highlights of the river cruise was seeing the osprey nests. While we didn’t see any of the birds, the nest were huge!
After the boat tour, we had brunch at The George on the Riverwalk. Beautiful place and the food was great! The restaurant is right on the water, and the views of the boats on the water and the river itself made for great atmosphere.
We also took a horse-drawn carriage tour of the downtown area. It was enjoyable (though not as much as the tours of Charleston), and the really cool part was that all of the horses used for the tour are rescue horses from Amish country.
We visited a shop that made candy and watched them for a while. We managed to get out of there without buying any of the sweets, but it was tough to do it! Everything looked and smelled amazing! Check out these sweets!!
USS North Carolina (BB-55):
We also visited the USS North Carolina (BB-55) while in Wilmington. I did a separate post on the battleship, but here are a couple of pictures taken during our river trip. Impressive, don’t you think?
There you have a quick overview of our visit to Wilmington, NC. Beautiful weather, good food, interesting sites, and the best traveling companion in the world made this one delightful weekend getaway. I’m sure there will be a return trip in the not too distant future!
Have you visited Wilmington? If you have, what was your favorite memory? If not, consider it, but leave me a comment and let me know where your favorite spot is. After all, now that Lana is retired, we need to start planning some travel!