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How did Banks Channel get its name?

Ben Steelman
StarNews
Salboats on Banks Channel in the 1890s. Photo courtesy of the New Hanvover County Public Library.

Salboats on Banks Channel in the 1890s. Photo courtesy of the New Hanvover County Public Library.

According to Madeline Flagler of the Wrightsville Beach Museum, the name comes from “The Banks,” the local name for what is now Wrightsville Beach back in the 1700s and early 1800s.

Harbor Island was known as “The Hammocks” as late as the 1890s. In fact, Banks Channel originally separated The Hammocks from The Banks.

The name “Banks Channel” appears on the J.C. Chase survey map of Wrightsville Beach as early as 1892. (You can find a copy in the 1986 pamphlet “Historic Architecture of New Hanover County, North Carolina,” available in the local history room of the New Hanover County Public Library.)

Although associated with Wrightsville Beach, much of Banks Channel now runs behind Topsail Island — a reflection, Flagler noted, of the migration of barrier islands over time.

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William Roy

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3 Responses to “ How did Banks Channel get its name?”

  1. On March 28, 2014 at 6:23 am Bill Woodhouse wrote:

    Regarding the name, “Banks Channel” Mar. 26): Lewis Hall (I, p. 45) cites a 1740 map which called Wrightsville Beach “The New Hanover Banks.” That implies that there were other banks about. Indeed there were and still are: Bogue Banks, Shackleford Banks, Core Banks, as well as the Outer Banks. In this sense, “banks” is a synonym for “barrier island.”
    Likewise, “banks channel” is a generic term meaning the elongated body of water behind and parallel to a barrier island. When applied to a specific one, the term is capitalized and becomes a proper noun. There are several other Banks Channels nearby: the one behind Topsail Island, the one just inside Brown’s Inlet, and the one behind Bogue Banks (to limit ourselves to local Chart 11541, Neuse River to Myrtle Grove Sound).
    They all share common geographical features but are otherwise unrelated. The notion that the migration of barrier islands establishes any connection between our local Banks Channels needs to be discarded as absurd. That “migration” refers to movement from seaward inland, not parallel to the beach (and across three inlets and thousands of acres of marsh).

  2. On March 28, 2014 at 11:38 am Si Cantwell wrote:

    Thanks for contributed that!

  3. On August 25, 2014 at 9:21 pm Judy Johnson wrote:

    I have my dad’s last paycheck ( it was never cashed) from North Carolina Shipbuilding Company dated July 16, 1945!



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