Ceremony of Remembrance for the Lost Pilots of Smithville planned Saturday
SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — River pilots are an essential part of water traffic on the Cape Fear River. They have brought ships safely from the Atlantic ocean to ports along the river since before there were established towns in the area.
2021 is the 100th anniversary of the Wilmington-Cape Fear Pilots Association and to commemorate the milestone, and to remember pilots lost at sea, there is a special event and wreath laying planned in Southport.
Pilots have historically navigated an ever changing river to bring cargo to Wilmington and other ports. During the Civil War they were blockade runners that dodged Union ships to bring supplies to the Confederate army and to the people of the Cape Fear. In the 1870s ten pilots were lost at sea. The terrible loss to Smithville and Wilmington led to a monument at the Smithville Burying Ground that stands today as a memorial to all lost pilots.
Smithville was built around a military fort at the mouth of the Cape Fear river. The commander held several nights of entertainment as fundraisers for the monument. He said at the time that a monument was needed that “those who live after us may find the virtues and gallant deeds of their ancestors carved in the imperishable stone.”
The event on Saturday is free and will feature descendants of pilots, current pilots, entertainment, and a wreath laying at the pilot’s monument. It starts at 4pm and is open to the public.
For more information on the Southport Historical Society click here.