Little Rivers and Waterway Tales
By Bland Simpson with Ann Cary Simpson
THIS NEW BOOK from UNC Press is a delightful exploration of Eastern North Carolina’s waterscapes. The prose by Bland Simpson is engaging and the photos by Ann Cary Simpson are revealing. It is a great introduction to the people and communities along the rivers of the state’s sound country. The Simpsons have explored the terrain and researched the history, true experts on the subject.
From mothboats on the Pasquotank to the steamboat Estelle Randall on the Scuppernong, watercraft play an important role in the story. From grits and fried flounder for breakfast on the Little Alligator to an historic landing at Buzzards Point, the senses are whetted with flavors, sounds and sights of places visited by the authors. And the histories of the locales come to life with the narratives of the people who lived, worked and fought in the region.
In the opening pages Simpson lays out with descriptive precision what he will present in this book – “All the eastern streams taken together form the patterns of our history, of our families, of the worlds the little rivers opened up for our forebears: all those turning basins, shipyards, sheds, and barns where so many boats of almost every imaginable design and description were crafted.” This sentence goes on for one and twenty more words like “loamy fecundity.”
The parts of the book which will be most interesting to those who live in Carteret and Onslow counties are those that deal with the Trent and White Oak rivers, Taylors Creek and North River as well. The area names are familiar: Clubfoot Creek, Ward’s Creek, Front Street, Haywood Landing, Jones Island; all enhanced by stories old and new. I enjoyed reading about the laid-back community of Stella and also Clyde Phillips Seafood between the Swansboro bridges.
Travelers who have passed by Brock’s Mill Pond in Trenton on their way to Kinston will like reading about the mill which sits beside Highway 58. Then there is the story of the discovery of an 18th century ferry found in 1989 at the bottom of the Trent River near where it meets the Neuse. This is as much a history book as a current guide to the area. From the Tuscarora War to Lukens Cemetery the past and the present meet with striking stories.
Readers will certainly be intrigued by the array of black and white photos which invite one to explore the rivers. The “Lost Soul Tree” at Shelter Creek, McLean’s Castle on the Lumber River, and the “Walking Tree” on the White Oak are just a few of the amazing shots. The visuals, along with the written descriptions, make this a book well worth having as a reference to this wonderful part of the country, our part.
Emerald Isle Books