With moving on pending, it was time to bimble along the road to explore the museum here in Beaufort. A purpose built, light, airy and spacious building we soon found lots of interesting things to read and learn about.
The crab pot was invented in 1938 by B.F. Lewis, of Harrington, Virginia. In 1990 there were about 585,000 crab pots used by fisherman in North Carolina. Crab pots account for over 95% of all blue crab landings
Pelagic or open sea whaling was conducted from sailing factory ships which followed the whale’s migratory routes. Numerous vessels from other states fished off North Carolina’s coast but only two made significant contact, the Massachusetts ships Daniel Webster and Seychelle. Daniel Webster entered the fishery in 1873 and reportedly introduced the whaling gun to the local whalers. Seychelle was the last recorded whaler to visit the Cape Lookout area and was lost in the Great Storm of 1879, another casualty of the graveyard of the Atlantic.
Oystering did not become a commercial venture in North Carolina until the early 1870’s, although they were widely harvested for local use. George Ives pioneered the commercial oyster business when he started shipping them fresh from the Beaufort-Morehead City area in 1874. By 1880, one thousand oystermen worked the waters of Carteret County landing approximately sixty thousand bushels a year.
Large scale oystering occurred in 1889, when oyster dealers from the Chesapeake Bay established canneries on the Pamlico Sound. With the depletion of Chesapeake Bay’s oyster beds in the late 1880’s came the invasion of that area’s oystermen to work the ‘new’ beds of North Carolina. In 1890 approximately two hundred and fifty schooners from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia were dredging Pamlico Sound for oysters to be shipped to Baltimore and labeled and sold as ‘Chesapeake’ Oysters. This encroachment caused North Carolina’s oyster catch to escalate dramatically, rising from one hundred thousand bushels in 1887 to an estimated two million, eight hundred thousand bushels in 1890. Aware of the depletion of the state’s oyster beds by this trespass of fishermen, North Carolina’s legislature passed a law in 1891 prohibiting oyster dredging by nonresidents and establishing a winter dredging season. Thomas Ashe said in 1682, “......oysters....their number inexhaustible, – a man may easily gather more in a day than he can well eat in a year.
North Carolina authorised the use of water bottoms, except in Pamlico Sound, for private oyster cultivation in early 1883. As early as 1907, the future of the oyster industry was dependent on these private beds but fishermen lost enthusiasm for the fishery’s new non-traditional form. By the 1950’s state fisheries experts were again recommending the cultivation of oyster beds to meet market demands and fulfill the potential state waters had for a successful industry. The hardest obstacle to overcome was the traditional attitude and lifestyle of the free-ranging oysterman.
This Life Car was built by T.F. Rowland at the Continental Works, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York. Circa 1890’s. Weight 200 pounds.
Captain Douglas Ottinger of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service designed the first life-car in the early 1840’s. The life-car was one of three methods used by the U.S. Life Saving Service for rescuing shipwreck victims. When violent seas prevented the safe transport of passengers to shore by means of the breeches buoy or the use of manned surf boats the life-car was brought into service. The life-car was hauled over, through, or even under the seas by ropes that had been shot to the wreck by a small cannon or Lyle gun. The quick removal of large numbers of passengers also required the car’s use. The car had demonstrated a capacity for holding eleven persons at once, although five or six adults or nine half-grown children was the average.
In 1851 Jacob Abbott wrote in Harper’s Magazine , “When these passengers are put in, the door, or rather the cover, is shut down and bolted to its place... To be shut up in this manner in so dark and gloomy a recepticle, for the purpose of being drawn, perhaps at midnight, through a surf of such terrific violence that no boat can live in it, can be a very agreeable alternative. There is no light within the car, and there are no openings for the admission of air. It is subject, too, in its passage to the shore, to the most frightful shocks and concussions from the force of the breakers. The car... was such a form as required the passengers within it to lie at length in a recumbent position which rendered them almost utterly helpless”.
We found some interesting bits and bobs then spent some time looking at the history of the outboard engine
We looked around the history of local boat building, the extensive library. One of the volunteers – Tom took us up to the lookout at the top of the museum and pointed out various landmarks. Back downstairs his wife Jewel very kindly invited us over for supper on Christmas Eve. We had a quick look at the Civil War exhibition, sadly Bear couldn’t get his itchy trigger finger on the Howitzer and than it was closing time.
ALL IN ALL A GREAT AFTERNOON OUT