April 2, 2009
Attention on deck! Daily photos are no longer being updated on The Dinghy Dock...

Visit my other blog,
for my almost daily photos of Oriental/Pamlico County/ Local Waterways

Thanks for coming aboard!
-Capt. Ben

Monday, April 20, 2009

4.20- Bud


Yesterday Bud was laid to rest in the waters of the River Neuse near Oriental.

We'll miss you, Bob.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

3.23- Skateboard kids

Skateboarders on Midyette St.
Some young skateboarders were cruising down Midyette St. towards the Wildlife Ramp as the sun sank in the evening sky.

The Midyette family founded Oriental... In 1872, Robert P. Midyette purchased 350 acres of land which would eventually become the town of Oriental. At the time, the land was timberland and farmland.

Several members of the Midyette family came with Robert to settle on the land, and several of the early Midyette homes were built between Camp Creek and what is now Midyette St... Including, I believe, the houses in the background above.

In the late 1880's, Robert P. Midyette began subdividing and selling lots near Chadwick Point (the confluence of Raccoon Creek and the Neuse River), southeast of Midyette St.

The earliest parcels were developed into a lumber mill and mill worker tenaments (owned by lumber mill owners), a store, and warehouse and docking facilities on the Neuse River for the Old Dominion Steamship Company.

As more residential and commercial lots were subdivided, the town of Oriental was chartered (March 4, 1899), and the bustling little fishing and lumbering village grew, the Midyette descendants continued living on a 150 acre plot that remained un-divided until well after R.P. Midyette's death in 1902.

The Midyette family compound (which soon included homes of families by marriage) stretched along the banks of Camp Creek and Midyette St. to the town's gate at what is now the intersection of Midyette and North Streets.

(Yes, Oriental was originally a "gated community"... One early town ordinance imposed a 5$ fine for anyone who left the town gate open at night, presumably because there were free-roaming farm animals within the town borders.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

3.22- "Local Knowledge" aids to navigation

Whittaker Creek Range Markers (dayboards)

Range markers are very helpful aids to marine navigation.

These markers are on the shore of Whittaker Creek... Boaters traveling the channel between Whittaker Creek and the Neuse River can use these markers to stay within the channel that has been dredged out of the surrounding shoal.

A boater headed into Whittaker Creek from the Neuse River can maneuver the boat so that the orange stripes on these two markers appear lined up... the rear marker is higher than the forward marker, allowing a boater to see both markers when they are lined up (or when they are not).

When headed out of Whittaker Creek into the Neuse, the boater must occasionally (actually, frequently is more advised) glance behind to make sure the markers are lined up.

The picture below was taken from directly in front of the forward/lower marker while looking straight down Whittaker Creek channel into the Neuse River - A boater coming into the creek would maneuver the boat to keep the markers on shore lined up (as conceptually depicted below), making sure that the boat is staying in the middle of the channel:

I have seen many a boat go aground navigating this channel... apparently staying within the channel markers (the posts sticking out of the water in the aboe photo) is not all that easy, and in any case may not guarantee a deep enough passage, depending on the boat, so the on-shore range markers are a great help.

I believe this particular range is a "private" range constructed by locals and not the Coast Guard... therefore they probably don't show up on charts, and constitute a bit of "local knowledge."

Here are the approximate locations of the Whittaker Creek channel and Range Markers (dayboards):


Thursday, March 19, 2009

3.19- "Thirsty Thursday" at The Silos

The Silos Restaurant & Saloon at twilight

The Silos is located on NC Hwy. 55 just a couple hundred yards outside the Oriental town limits.

It always draws a large crowd on Thursdays for $1.00 pint draft beer specials... including Yeungling, my preference.

Complementary peanuts are a signature of the place, though the new owners/management (who came in last year) introduced the revolutionary concept of sweeping up the peanut shells off the floor every few days or so... prior owners did not, and peanut shells formed dunes and drifts wherever people did not walk... Some customers, including myself, favor the old leave-em-on-the-floor approach.

From what I understand, these were actual silos on the property, converted into a bar/restaurant by the previous owners... Currently, only the left-hand silo is open for business.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

3.18- Pear trees

Pear tree in bloom

Pear trees are blooming all over the area lately.

Today the sun has come out (after several grey rainy days), making them more brilliant.

This tree is in front of the Oriental Freewill Baptist Church on Ragan Rd... The Church's message board today reads:


Monday, March 16, 2009

3.16- Spring Chickens

Chickens prove the truth of the "Vari Kennel" name for their temporary roost
(Click on images for full size)

This small flock of chickens was spotted in Oriental's old village as they awaited trans-shipment through town... their ultimate destination is a farm in the mountains of western NC.

The three hens and a cock are not destined for dinner-plates, but for egg-laying and pecking around the farmyard.

(Click on images for full size)


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3.10- Springtime on "Indian Ditch"

Budding tree overlooking marshland on the southern side of the "Indian Ditch" between Turnagain Bay and Long Bay
(Click on image for full size)

Spring continues to evince itself along the waterways of Down East NC... This shot was taken on the banks of a canal known to locals as "Indian Ditch."

This particular "Indian Ditch" runs about 1.25 miles through marshland between the heads of Turnagain Bay on the West and Long Bay on the East, a convenient shortcut to the other side of Piney Island (home of the U.S. military's "BT-11" target range... as signs along the north bank of the ditch attest [see picture at right])

The term "Indian Ditch," as far as I can tell, refers to irrigation and transportation canals built by Native Americans... I have found no authoritative information on the history of this particular ditch, but have found U.S. Govt. references to the "Indian Ditch" as comprising the southern border of the "BT-11" target range.

If the ditch was indeed originally built by Native Americans, I have a feeling it has since been improved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, seeing as how it is a good 5 feet deep for its entire 1.25 mile straight-line run through swampy marshland.

Trees grow along the ditch where the canal's dredgings have been deposited, forming dry land berms/dikes between the canal and the surrounding marshlands.

It is hard to imagine such an engineering feat using hand tools and stone-age technology, though I would readily believe that Native Americans built some sort of waterway communicating between these two bays to provide for canoes or other small fishing boats.

It would certainly make sense for area natives to want a shortcut from the Neuse River estuary to fisheries of Long Bay and West Bay, and, via another purported "Indian Ditch," all the way to the waterways now known as Core Sound.

Please, if you have any info on the history of this ditch, or know of some sources I could consult, please drop me a comment or e-mail.

Here is a shot of the ditch, followed by a Google map showing its location:

View Larger Map

[Steven has left a comment linking to an 1884 U.S. Coast Survey map on the University of North Carolina "NC Maps" site which shows an "Old Canal" at the location of today's photographs:

Thanks for the reference, Steven!... UNC's NC Maps on-line collection is news to me, and I am enjoying looking through all the maps... So far I have found an 1844 postal map showing a waterway passing between the Neuse River and Long Bay, again in the same place as the above "Indian Ditch.":



Monday, March 9, 2009

3.09- Kershaw Creek

Capt. Miller at the helm, cruising up Kershaw Creek
(Click on image for full size)

The weather is finally turning to Spring... a beautiful 85 F, sunny day here in the ONC.

Today I had the pleasure of joining Capt. Miller for a pre-season "shake-down cruise" on his May Craft 1900, just to make sure the engine wintered OK... After a little work cranking the engine, everything went smoothly.

I look forward to some more power-cruises with Capt. Miller as the season advances... I might even have to break down and get me a fishing license!