List of Merchant Steamboats in NC (1881 to 1899)
   The first steamboats or steamships began plying North Carolina's sounds and rivers in 1818 (see steamboat list prior to 1861). The state's outer banks and difficult river navigation posed significant barriers. A local steamboat construction industry started in Fayetteville, Wilmington and Washington. Additional material will be added to this section. Please provide any information for changes to this list to Ron Vinson.

   The steamboat transportation industry in North Carolina was much larger than previous reports. We have identified about 100 (at present) steamers plying North Carolina rivers, canals and sounds prior to 1861, with an additional 100+ such boats (excluding steamer flats and tugs) built and operating between 1861 and 1899. These lists are expected to grow.
   This comprehensive listing does not contain the occasional ocean-going steamship that once or only a few times on an irregular basis stopped at Wilmington or Smithville (now Southport) or other NC seaports. The intent is to list cargo and passenger steamers, not tugs. Note: There were many lighters large flat-bottomed barges that are not included in this list, as these vessels were not considered "Steam Boats" by contemporary sources. There is an exception for the Hamilton (1884) which had a iron or steel hull and was federally registered. Links are provided to some steamers to provide additional information and drawings/photos, where available. More information on specific steamers is constantly being added.
Steamers in North Carolina from 1812 to 1849 (click link) are contained in this list.
Steamers in North Carolina from 1850 to 1860 (click link) are contained in this list.
Steamers in North Carolina from 1861 to 1880 (click link) are contained in this list.
Steamers in North Carolina from 1881 to 1899 (click link) are contained in this list.

Listing of Steamboats
(Cargo and/or Passenger) on NC rivers and sounds (does not include tugs)

Wheel types - P (sidewheel); W (stern or center); S (screw drive);   Service - f  (ferry)

Year Built

Name of Vessel

Wheel Type


Built In

First Home Port

NC River/Sound Routes/Dates

Final Disposition

1881 Bessie S


Tottenville, NY 1888 - Wilmington, NC
1881 Conoho
1881 Diamond A
1881 Diamond C
1881 Glide
1881 Mountain Lily P French Broad French Broad River Abandoned 1885
1882 Bonito S 33 Lenoxville, NC
1882 Cumberland (II)
1882 Florence S 8 Vanceborough, NC New Berne, NC Swift Creek Line; J. M. Ipoch, captain, in 1896
1882 Kinston P 97 New Berne, NC New Berne, NC Kinston - Trenton and various points Neuse & Trenton Steamboat Co.
1882 L. H. Cutler S 30 Swift Creek, NC New Berne, NC Kinston - Trenton and various points Neuse & Trenton Steamboat Co.
1882 Lisbon (I) W


Point Caswell, NC Wilmington, NC Black River Damaged ice 1893; abandoned 1897
1882 Saugerties P NC New Bern & Elizabeth City Burned in 1903 in New York
1882 Wilmington S 110 Wilmington, DE Philadelphia, PA Wilmington to Southport (1891 - ) Sold overseas, still was operating in 1977





Washington, NC

Washington, NC

Tar River


1883 Bladen 100 NC Cape Fear Burnt 1885, rebuilt; burnt 1886
1883 Blanche (II)
1883 Charles






Washington, NC

Tar River


1883 Meteor
1883 Plymouth S 210 Norfolk, VA Edenton, NC Edenton - Plymouth
1884 Bettie (II) P 64 Elizabeth City, NC
1884 Cleopatra
1884 Eva
1884 Eaglet 386 New Bern & Washington-Kinston, etc. Sold to Clyde Line in 1891. Operating in 1896 as part of Eastern Dispatch Line between Newbern - Elizabeth City




NC Cape Fear; on Black River 1885 Burned April 1885, rebuilt
1884 Hamilton (steam barge; iron or steel hull)




Delta, NC 

Wilmington, NC

Northeast & Black Rivers

Boiler exploded 1887, rebuilt; served after 1889, unknown disposition

1885 Eva Parker
1885 Hercules


R. L. Myers (II)



Washington, NC

Washington, NC

Tar River - Washington to Greenville, NC

Sold to Norfolk & Southern RR in 1905, dismantled in 1908.

1885 Seabright Sank off Bald Head 1901
1886 J.C. Stewart built for SC company Wilmington, NC Cape Fear
1886 Enterprise (III)
1886 Katie and Sadie
1886 Josie
1886 Lily
1886 Susie Black River Burned 1887 at Point Caswell
1887 Sylvan Grove Wilmington to Carolina Beach Burned 1890/1891
1887 Beta
1887 Cape Fear (II)


Cape Fear Wrecked 1895
1887 Comet
1887 Croatan  P


Elizabeth City, NC Edenton, NC Burnt 10/17/1929 Pasquotank River, NC
1887 Greenfield
1887 Hattie
1887 Manteo Newbern - Norfolk
1887 Passport Wilmington to Southport
1888 S. A. McCall* P 130 Boston, MA Boston, MA Cashie River
1888 Acme
1888 Albemarle (III)
1888 Ella
1889? Cashwell P


1889 Pierrepont Cashie River to Norfolk through Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal
1890 Maggie Clear Run, NC Black River Sold to SC co. 1892
1892 C.F.D. Town Creek
1894 Frank Sessoms


Wilmington, NC Point Caswell, NC Black River operated after 1900
1895 Killam Wilmington, NC Cape Fear
1895 D. Murchison (II) W Fayetteville, NC Cape Fear
1895 E. A. Hawkes Point Caswell, NC Black River operating after 1905
1887 Howard S 42 New berne, NC New Berne, NC Independent Line in 1896; J. J. Lassiter, gen. mgr.
<1896 Cardina Newbern - Contentnea Creek
<1896 George H. Stewart Newbern - Baltimore
<1896 Newbern Newbern - Norfolk
<1896 Trent Kinston - Trenton and various points Neuse & Trenton Steamboat Co.
<1896 Blondie Kinston - Trenton and various points Neuse & Trenton Steamboat Co.
1897 Lisbon (II) W


Point Caswell, NC Black & Cape Fear  Sank after 1900 Point Caswell, NC
1899 A. J. Johnson W


Clear Run, NC Clear Run, NC Black River 1914







Tar River

Withdrawn from service 1899

W. T. Daggett W


Black River Ran after 1901
William Nyce Cape Fear Burned 1884
Saint Peter Northeast River


Burned 12/7/1883 at Wilmington


Burned 12/31/1882 at Edenton
Reindeer Norfolk, VA Cape Fear
1880s Ranger Roanoke River Sank 1898 in Roanoke River
1880s M. E. Dickerman Elizabeth City and sounds
 Source: Ron Vinson, CSI/ISI; newspaper reports, federal registration, etc.
 Note: Pioneering research on U.S. steamers was conducted by William M. Lytle, Forrest R. Holdcamper, C. Bradford Mitchell , Roy F. Johnson and others.
*formerly U.S. Lighthouse Ship Dandelion built in 1863; rebuilt and renamed in 1887 as S. A. McCall

 Wheel types - P (sidewheel); W (stern or center); S (screw drive);   Service - f  (ferry)

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