Carolina Beach was the answer for perhaps the most challenging of the Miscellany’s “Where the Heel?” competitions. Would it still be billed today as “North Carolina’s largest beach resort town”?
I imagine these vivid tourist decals being displayed in a wire rack on a drugstore counter in the 1950s — just about the time Hurricane Hazel almost wiped out the town.
“The diary [of John N. Benners] is an almost daily account of the years 1857 to 1860. I open the old volume to the first page and I am immediately swept up: Jan. 24. 1857. The river still frozen, navigation entirely impeded. A large sea vessel frozen up at Wilkinson’s Point [in what is now Pamlico County]. The weather was so very cold this week no work could be done outdoors….
“The ‘large sea vessel’ was the schooner Isaac W. Hughes. Benners was witnessing the great freeze of ’57, of which there are many accounts, though few so poignantly rendered.
“At Wilkinson Point , the Neuse is opening into the Pamlico Sound and is miles wide. Benner had never seen the river freeze from shore to shore before, and I have not heard of it doing so since.
“The freeze of 1857 became an enduring benchmark in the passage of time on the North Carolina coast, like the great meteor shower of 1833 or Hurricane Hazel in 1954….”
— From “John N. Benners’ Journal: A Saltwater Farmer & His Slaves” by David Cecelski at davidcecelski.com (Oct. 2, 2017)