Monday, June 26, 2006

The Blockade Runner


We're at the front door of the Blockade Runner Hotel at Wrightsville Beach, N.C. We didn't check into the Blockade Runner, but we did check it out.

Wrightsville Beach is about 10 miles north east of Wilmington, N.C. It was incorporated in 1899, but a major hurricane of the same year wiped out nearly all buildings on the beach including the Carolina Yacht Club which had been established in 1853. Another major hurricane, Hazel, pretty well demolished Wrightsville again in 1954. Both of these hurricanes struck at high tide which brought very high tidal surges over the entire island.

During the American Civil War, Union gunboats formed blockades of most major Southern seaports on the East Coast in an attempt to deprive the Confederacy both commercial trade and goods for civilian as well as military purposes. The intention was, of course, to cause such depravation that the South might sue for peace. It didn't.

Naturally, the South and its trading partners would attempt to run the blockades. These ships were called Blockade Runners. At least three such vessels were sunk just off the coast of Wrightsville. The name, " Blockade Runner ", took on romantic and heroic proportions in Southern hearts and minds, neither of which fell to the Union after Appomatox in 1865. Blockade Runners became lodged in Southern lore and in 1964 it became the name of a newly constructed " Motor Hotel " on South Lumina Avenue. The Blockade Runner offers views of both the ocean and the sound on this very narrow strip of beach land. A guest might well surrender two hundred Yankee dollars for the pleasure of spending one night at the place.

The original mission of blockade runners was to keep commerce open and healthy. This Blockade Runner seems to be doing just that.


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