Early steam navigation on the Tar and Pamlico Rivers of North Carolina
Steamboats on the Tar
First, a bit of history about the author to explain how this book came to be—from the files of the Outer Banks History Center:
Captain Henry Clark Bridgers, Jr., (1913-1981) graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1935 after which he entered the Navy and graduated from flight training school in 1936 as an aviator, ultimately achieving the rank of captain in 1962. Bridgers suffered a heart attack in 1965 that forced his retirement from the Navy. Returning to his native Edgecombe County, N.C.,
he became a well-known local historian who wrote about railroads, banking and steamboats in eastern North Carolina. At the time of his death in 1981, Bridgers had spent years researching and writing a manuscript entitled Steamboats on the Tar that remains unpublished.
After his death, that manuscript went to famed author David Stick, now passed away. From Stick it went to Dr. Lindley S. Butler, a North Carolina historian who helped organize the boxes of notes and papers Captain Bridgers left behind. It eventually found its way to the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC), part of the State of North Carolina’s Archives in Manteo, NC.
I came across the manuscript while doing research for another project and I was intrigued that so much research had been done and catalogued but not published. With the permission of Captain Bridgers’ heirs, and the tireless efforts of the OBHC staff, KaeLi Schurr, Sarah Downing, Tama Creef and Stuart Parks, I was able to start the process of turning a thirty year old typescript into this publication. The photo staff at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia and the Steamship Historical Society of America in Cranston, Rhode Island were all helpful in locating and scanning the photos Captain Bridgers had originally selected back in the 1970’s.
Well-known painter Robert Pittman, whose grandfather once captained a steamboat on these same waters, produced an original cover based on an old photograph. My friend Mike Quinlan designed the beautiful cover from Bob's painting. And a very special thank you goes to Bob Newton of Farmville, NC for his gracious support
along the arduous path that has finally resulted in Steamboats on the Tar seeing the light of day.
For their efforts and for preserving all of the notes, schedules, photographs, posters and manuscripts that were part of Captain Bridgers’ work, all profits from the sale of this publication will go to the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center to support the center’s work.
More details about Captain Bridgers and his works are available at two locations: