The Black River is at the confluence of the Great Coharie River and Six Runs Creek. It starts in Sampson County and flows southward along the Sampson-Bladen and the Pender-Bladen County lines some 69 miles to its mouth, where it runs into the Cape Fear River at Rhones Island, 14 miles above Wilmington, NC.
Abundant with Cypress trees and other vegetation growing along its banks, much of the Black River is much as it use to be. Gone are the rafts, ferries, and steamboats. Gone are the tanneries, turpentine stills and most ofthe river landings and businesses. Also gone are the farms and villages, that the early settlers carved out of the wilderness along the river. Much of the river has returned to its original state. It is one of the most natural, beautiful and cleanest rivers in the state.
Evidence shows that there were few Indian living along the Black till the middle of the 1700's. They were pushed down from the northeastern part of the state and settled along the Coharie Creek, at the headwaters of the Black.
The Black was late in being settled. The Cape Fear was settled as far as Fayetteville and the North East was settled as far as Sarecta, when the first settlers began to establish themselves along the Black River.
In 1734, a writer wrote of the unsettled meadowland along the Black River. By 1738, three plantations were being carved out in the area.
About the only Revolutionary War activity the residents of the area saw was the Tories crossing the river, between Newkirk bridge and Corbetts Ferry and the Battle of Moores Creek, which is a tributary to the Black.
After the American Revolution, settlement continued at a slow pace. After the Civil War until the early 20th century, Black River was a major commercial river. Even before the steamboat arrived, turpentine was being floated downriver to Wilmington on flats, along with Cypress logs which were then shipped to the West Indies for ship building. Livestock, grain and hay were also shipped to market.
In 1869, steamboats arrived on the Black River and by 1870's another six steamboats arrived. By 1901, four steamboats, four steam tugs and forty flats were in business. The large house at Beatty's Bridge is the Corbett mansion. It is over 140 years old. Beatty's Bridge was built in 1793. The community at Beatty's Bridge was a local trading community through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century.
In 1893, the Black River froze over with a sheet of ice and the riverboat LISBON became stuck in the ice at Beatty's Bridge. After the thaw it continued on to Wilmington with its cargo of turpentine, and rosin.
Down from Beatty's Bridge is Squalling Bluff. It is on the east side of the river. Below that, is Sanding Landing. This is one of the prettiest places on the Black located on a sharp bend in the river with a long sandy bank extending well below the landing.
A real historical area along the Black is Point Caswell. Prior to the Civil War, Point Caswell was a pole boat stop and trading center of importance. From the close of the Civil War till late in the 19th century, it was a place of commerce. At the time there were two turpentine distilleries, saw mills, grist mills. Later on, a rice mill, a newspaper, a three story hotel, tailor shop and general merchandise stores, post office (shown on the post routes map 1896). A boarding house, blacksmith shops, shingle mill, several wagon works, and Point Caswell Academy. A ship building center located at Sherman's landing.
There are a few other landings along the Black River that I am familiar with, among those being Sparkleberry (where I use to go swimming). As a young boy, I spent many a Saturday or Sunday fishing and/or swimming at and in the Black River.
On the Black River near the town of Atkinson, (where I grew up) scientists have discovered Cypress trees growing which are dated to be 1500 years old. There is an area of river there (about 13 miles) which conservationists are trying to protect. There is one such tree aptly named "Methuselah" which is said to have began sprouting needles in 364 A.D.
Informational facts obtained from Pender Chronicle Newspaper 1999
articles on the Black River, which appeared in a series by Ray Wells, as
well as, information I know of personally, as it is the area in which I
Black River Photos