Alvah Ward, Jr. Papers, PC.5083

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Alvah Ward, Jr. Papers, PC.5083

Abstract

Oregon Inlet is a dynamic body of water that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pamlico Sound, flowing between the northern Outer Banks and Hatteras Island. After Alvah Ward, Sr. mounted a ten-year, grassroots effort to have Oregon Inlet deepened, Congress finally authorized the Manteo-Shallowbag Bay navigation project. After Alvah, Sr.'s death, the Dare County Board of Commissioners asked Alvah Ward, Jr. to continue to pursue the Oregon Inlet deepening project. With the utilization of larger, more efficient vessels, navigation of a constantly shoaled Oregon Inlet began to curtail further industry expansion, and with continuing loss of life and property, vessel owners began to shun North Carolina ports altogether. At the request of industry and county government, Alvah, Jr. agreed to address the justification for the permanent stabilization of Oregon Inlet with a jetty system. Opposition by organized environmental groups throughout the nation emerged, led by the Department of the Interior who saw the loss of land required for anchoring the north jetty as a threat to their national mandates. Proper justification was presented again and again and finally Congressional approval for construction was granted in 1970.
The Alvah Ward, Jr. Papers consist of maps, newspaper clippings, magazines, correspondence, photographs, pamphlets, briefs, and reports on Oregon Inlet, Wanchese Harbor, Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park, Manteo-Shallowbag Bay, the North Carolina Fisheries Association, and Federal Bureau of Commercial Fisheries.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Alvah Ward, Jr. Papers
Call Number
PC.5083
Creator
Ward, Alvah, Jr.
Date
1947-1981
Extent
6.32 cubic feet
Language
English
Repository
Outer Banks History Center

Series Quick Links

  1. Collection Contents

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], PC.5083, Alvah H. Ward, Jr. Papers, Outer Banks History Center, Manteo, N.C., U.S.A.

Collection Overview

The Alvah Ward, Jr. Papers consist of 5 boxes of materials on Oregon Inlet, Wanchese Harbor, the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park, Manteo-Shallowbag Bay, Federal Bureau of Commerical Fisheries, as well as the North Carolina Commercial Fisheries Association. There is also information on the Dare County Tourist Bureau and the Pirates Jamboree. It consists of photographs, maps, correspondence, newspaper clippings, magazines, pamphlets, briefs, and reports that were compiled by Alvah H. Ward, Jr. The first three boxes of this collection were processed by Brian Edwards shortly after being donated in 1997. In 2009, the remaining two boxes of materials were processed by project archivist, Kelly Grimm.

Biographical and Historical No

Oregon Inlet is a dynamic body of water that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pamlico Sound, flowing between the northern Outer Banks and Hatteras Island. It was created during a hurricane in 1846 and is named for the first vessel to pass through the inlet, the side-wheel steamer . As the northern-most inlet in North Carolina, Oregon Inlet is an important waterway for charter fishing boats, commercial fishing vessels and recreational boaters.

Since its creation, Oregon Inlet has migrated at least two miles to the south, and changed in shape and appearance. A terminal groin was constructed in 1990 to stop the migration of the southern portion of the inlet and to secure the southern terminus of the Bonner Bridge. The inlet's channel, which continually shoals with the ever-moving sand created by the outflow, is maintained by a dredge.

The initial efforts to provide access from Pamlico Sound and adjacent waterways to the sea through Oregon Inlet, began during World War II by Alvah Haff Ward, Sr. (1894-1952). Alvah, Sr. owned and operated the only ice manufacturing facility in the area so commercial fishing was important to his business, the Outer Banks and the entire coastal area of North Carolina.

In the early 1900s, large quantities of fish were being caught within a relatively short distance from North Carolina's shoreline by commercial fishing fleets from Virginia to Canada and later from foreign fleets that included Russia and Japan. North Carolina's fleet was mostly shrimp trawlers from the southeastern coast, that were forced to navigate Hatteras and Drum Inlets, around Cape Lookout, Cape Hatteras, and the treacherous Diamond Shoals. In addition, the traditional fishery was on a rapid decline and so was the economy of Dare County.

After Alvah, Sr. mounted what became a ten-year, coastal-wide grassroots effort to have Oregon Inlet deepened, Congress finally authorized the Manteo-Shallowbag Bay Navigation Project. It provided for a deepened channel 14 feet across the bar, with a channel 12 feet deep from the bar to deep water in Pamlico Sound and to Manteo Harbor with a side channel to Wanchese Harbor.

Alvah H. Ward, Jr. (1929- ), was born in Wanchese, N.C., to Alvah Ward, Sr. and Tracie Cahoon Ward. He graduated from the Citadal in 1951 and was commissioned into the Regular Army. In 1954, following his father's death, Alvah, Jr. resigned his commission and returned to Manteo to manage family interests. The Dare County Board of Commissioners asked Alvah Jr. to continue to pursue the Oregon Inlet deepening project. After considerable effort, which included briefs written by Alvah Jr. and Ben Dixon MacNeill, and through the efforts of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, Congressman Herbert C. Bonner, and later, Walter B. Jones, Sr., the actual construction and deepening was finished in 1958.

Almost immediately after the deepening of Oregon Inlet, Wanchese and fishing interests throughout eastern North Carolina began to expand operations. A new series of fishing vessels entered the offshore fishery. At first, these were converted World War II vessels, fire boats and transports. Later, new and larger wooden vessels were acquired. In recent years these have been replaced by modern steel vessels. As a result, fishery landings greatly increased and Wanchese emerged as a leading fishing port. With the advent of the long swordfish fishery, Wanchese and eastern North Carolina also emerged as a national leader in overall seafood production.

With the utilization of larger, more efficient vessels, navigation of a constantly shoaled Oregon Inlet began to curtail further industry expansion, and with continuing loss of life and property, vessel oweners began to shun North Carolina ports altogether. At the request of industry and county government, Alvah, Jr. agreed to address the justification for the permanent stabilization of Oregon Inlet with a jetty system. Proper justification was presented on several occasions and finally Congressional approval for construction was granted in 1970.

Almost immediately, opposition by organized environmental groups throughout the nation emerged, led by the Department of the Interior who saw the loss of land required for anchoring the north jetty as a threat to their national mandates. The project was also caught in political manuvering, with environmental interests trading their financial support for Senator John Edwards, in return for his elimination of congressional funding approval.

Alvah Jr. joined the North Carolina Department of Commerce in 1969 as a Marine Industries Consultant to the General Development Staff in Raleigh. One of the Congressional requirements for the authorization of jetties at Oregon Inlet was the establishment of a harbor of refuge and provision center to accommodate the expected increase as a result of the project. Dare County requested the state to assume this responsibility. Under the auspices of the Department of Commerce, the State Ports Authority agreed to provided the engineering and construction planning. Alvah Jr. submitted the concept of a seafood industrial park to the Coastal Plains Regional Commission (CPRC), headed by Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. The park was patterned after Southern Railway's Arrowwood Park near Charlotte and was similar to a harbor for shrimp boats near Brownsville, Texas. The CPRC liked the concept and agreed to finance initial construction. Each North Carolina governor, beginning in 1973 with Governor James Holshouser, approved funding through EDA and other goverenmental sources.

Alvah Jr. conducted marketing plans for the facility and engaged seafood and marine related interests nationwide, who were committed to locating, receiving, processing, and marketing facilities within the park after completion. The Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park was completed on schedule, and under budget, without a large outlay of state funds. All plans were based on the concept of offloading ocean-going vessels of considerable tonnage at Wanchese.

With the delay in the permanent stablization of Orgeon Inlet, interest began to wane and one-by-one national companies withdrew their commitments to locate facilities within the park. After it was clear that Orgeon Inlet would not be stabilized, the state amended the mission of the facility to include all marine interests.

With the rapid growth of recreational fishing and boating, the park is now a mecca for small boat construction and repair, and now meets its financing goals. Wanchese remains a very active port for small commercial fishing and recreational fishing craft, where several hundred people are employed.

Contents of the Collection

Collection Contents
Finding Aid
1:1.1
Dare County Tourist Bureau
1:2.1
Pirates Jamboree
1:3.1
Oregon Inlet
4713
North Carolina Fisheries Association
4790
Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park
4796
Manteo-Shallowbag Bay
4865
Other Organizations
4876
Resume: George J. Tutunjan
5:9.1
Correspondence
4888
Newspaper Clippings
4894
Promotional Materials
4903
Publications, Presentations, and Reports
4909
Photographs
4928
Oregon Inlet and Wanchese Harbor Maps; separated materials located in map drawer 32
5:15.1

Subject Headings

  • Ward, Alvah Haff, 1929-
  • Dare County Oregon Inlet and Waterways Commission
  • United States. Army. Corps of Engineers
  • Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park (Wanchese, N.C.)
  • Dredging
  • Fisheries--North Carolina
  • Jetties
  • Trawls and trawling--North Carolina
  • Oregon Inlet (N.C.)
  • Wanchese (N.C.)
  • Acquisitions Information

    Donated by Alvah H. Ward, Jr. in 1997.

    Processing Information

  • Processed by Brian Edwards, 1997 and Kelly Grimm October, 2009
  • Encoded by Kelly R. Grimm, November, 2009