The Commercial Fishing Graveyard and Memory: Wright’s Creek, Belhaven, North Carolina



A 1994–1995 survey (Babits and Kjorness, 1995, Final Report on an Archaeological Survey of the Western Shore of the Pungo River from Wade’s Point to Woodstock Point. Department of History, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina) discovered the presence of several abandoned vessel complexes in Wright’s Creek, a rural area located between the Pamlico and Pungo Rivers in North Carolina. These boat graveyards, composed of the discarded vessels and equipment of the commercial fishing community, serve a purpose for those who create and maintain them along their property boundaries, bestowing them with meaning and regard. Rather than aesthetically displeasing “eye-sores,” these sites serve as a repository for the memories and nostalgia of the commercial fishers. In addition, they provide materials for salvage and reuse, aiding in maintenance of working vessels, proving a financial boon in the process of boat breaking. The archaeological study of a commercial fishing graveyard allows interpretation of the social, economic, and technological changes affecting the surrounding community. The concentration of abandoned vessels in this embayment presents a unique opportunity to study behavioral patterns associated with a rural boat graveyard, as the adjacent community is still interacting with the discarded material remains. Continued interaction demonstrates social significance as the surrounding community has intimate ties to the abandoned watercraft. This area of Belhaven, once a vital waterway for commercial fishers, is experiencing economic decline as evidenced by the high number of vessel and equipment graveyards.


Archaeological Record Commercial Fishing Fishing Vessel Site Formation Surrounding Community 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VancouverUSA

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