Roanoke River Paddle Trail
Union Camp's colorful tug, Tuscarora, is a common site to many people who live along the Chowan and Blackwater Rivers. She hauls barges of wood to the Franklin, Va. plant from four different woodyards in North Carolina.|
Purchased in 1937 in Houman, Louisianna, Tuscarora is 65 feet long, 22 feet wide, draws 8 feet of water and has two Caterpillar engines (each with 480 horsepower). Her name was chosen during a contest held at the company. The Tuscaroras were an Indian tribe that once lived along the Chowan River.
This workhorse and her "big sister", The American Eagle, are responsible for making weekly stops at four different Union Camp woodyards in North Carolina; Edenton, 65 miles away; South Mills, 150 miles; Williamston, 95 miles; and Winton, 30 miles.
The Winton Yard, established in 1938, is Union Camp's oldest and smallest woodyard. Only shortwood (5' logs) is handled at Winton, while the other three yards supply longwood (15' logs) to Union Camp's Franklin, Va. mill.
Between 160 and 180 cords of wood are loaded on each barge. The barges supply approximately 10% of the pulpwood used at Union Camp, or 100,000 cords of wood annually.|
When the barges have been loaded with between 750-925 cords of wood, the tugs slowly make their way up the Chowan and Blackwater Rivers at 3 knots. Depending on weather conditions, it can take anywhere from one day and a half to three days to arrive at the Franklin woodyard.|
At the barge unloading station, a crane picks up the wood and feeds it directly into the woodyard equipment to be chipped for transformation into pulp.
Union Camp's first tug boat Captain, in the early 1920s, was Harry Beecher Ward from South Mills, NC. Captain Ward captained the Ida Camp, a steam powered "tow boat" which pulled freshly cut timber to the mill. Captain Ward's son, Harry Bartlett Ward was hired in 1940 and succeeded his father as Captain and River Operations Supervisor.|
|Harry Beechem Ward||South Mills, NC||Harry Bartlett Ward||Winton, NC
||Walter Evans||Winton, NC
||Clarence Cooper||Virginia Beach, VA
||Mack Whidbee||Elizabeth City, NC
||Herbert Davenport||Elizabeth City, NC
||Tom Jones||Merry Hill, NC
||Bob Phillips||Murfreesboro, NC
||David Doyle||Ahoskie, NC|
Herbert Davenport is the only remaining Captain from the Ward era; the others have retired. David Doyle, the newest member of the team may see the last days of these old workhorses on our waters.|
For those lucky few who live along the pristine Chowan and Blackwater Rivers, the tugs still revive memories of warm summer days, the smell of freshly cut pine and a smiling Tug Boat Captain waiving to children playing along the river bank.
We'd like to express our appreciation to Captain Bob Phillips for his generosity in providing the material and photography used in this article. Captain Phillips came to Union Camp as a replacement Captain and River Operations Supervisor for Captain Harry Bartlett Ward. His extensive maritime career is nearly as impressive as his photography. Bob received his art and photographic training in New York. He, along with his wife Carol, own Phillips Photography & Design near Murfreesboro in Northeastern North Carolina.
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