Concrete River Steamers of World War I, ca. 1921

Source: John B. Green Collection #380.2.b
Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo
Description: Seen in the photograph above are four, unnamed, concrete-hulled river steamers at the Newport Shipping Corporation shipyard, in New Bern, North Carolina. They are obviously incomplete and unnamed. Built to solve the desperate shortage of steel for shipping during World War I, they were just one of the many innovations, from flame-throwers to tanks to aerial warfare, inspired by the “War to End All Wars”. During the first World War, steel had become so scarce that the U. S. Shipping Corporation which controlled all American shipping during the war, recommended that President Woodrow Wilson approve the construction of 24 such concrete ships. Of the 24, only 12 were built, at a total cost of $50 million. The Newport Shipbuilding Corporation of New Bern, NC was one of the companies selected to build the ships. Not one of the ships was finished in time to contribute to the war effort and were launched only in 1921, just when a huge surplus of now-unneeded shipping was beginning to flood the market. By the time the ships were completed, the war was already long over and the nation was still mired in a deep postwar recession. Just what happened to the ships built in New Bern is a matter of some conjecture. Most of the others sank or were converted to other purposes such as breakwaters, hotels, and fishing piers. It is unclear what happened to some of them. Please contact the author if you know the present location of any of the New Bern built concrete ships.

Pepsi Party at Bradham Drug Store, Bradham & Friends, 1890’s

Staff Pick for June 18th

Source: The Minges Collection, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #1136
Staff Person: Lynette Lundin
This collection documents the history of the Minges family in the soft drink business, Pepsi-Cola, in North Carolina. The materials in the collection cover the time period of 1890’s to 1992. Caleb Davis Bradham, born in Chinquapin, North Carolina, in 1867, attended the University of  North Carolina in 1886 and completed his college education at the University of Maryland. Caleb, a Pharmacist in New Bern, created the drink on August 28, 1898. Originally called Brad’s drink, it is now called Pepsi-Cola. The image below titled “Pepsi Party” is of Caleb Bradham and friends. The date on image is 1890’s.

We have this collection due to the generosity of Jeffrey M. Minges.

New Bern, North Carolina, 1908 Post Card

Source: Tabitha Marie DeVisconti Papers #480

Staff Person: Martha Elmore

Description: New Bern was founded in 1710 and is North Carolina’s second oldest town.  This post card, bearing a 1908 postmark, depicts a downtown view of New Bern including Christ Episcopal Church, the Courthouse, Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, the Post Office and the First Baptist Church.