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Was Bald Head Island at one time to be named in honor of George Pullman, the railcar king?

Cammie Bellamy

Q. Somewhere I saw that in 1892 Bald Head Island was purchased and was to be named Pullman Island in honor of George Pullman, the railcar king. If true, whatever became of that deal?

A. It does appear that there was a short-lived plan to name Bald Head Island after Pullman.

George Pullman

George Pullman

According to excerpts from “Southport (Smithville) A Chronology. Volume II (1887-1920)” by Bill Reaves, provided by the Old Baldy Foundation, news-clippings from 1892 show the island had been bought by a a railroad company. H.H. Dougherty, general manager of the company, told newspaper reporters at the time that he planned to named the island after George Pullman of the Chicago-based Pullman Car Company.

“The price agreed upon for the island was $25,000,” the book reads. “It was understood that a magnificent hotel would be built on the island and that it would be a paradise for winter and summer visitors.”

But by 1893, Dougherty’s company was no longer listed as the owner. It’s unclear what happened, but the change of ownership came as plans for Dougherty’s company to build a Brunswick-to-Tennessee railway fell through. The proposed railway would have been called the Brunswick, Western & Southern Railroad; according to a historian at www.Carolana.com, that plan never materialized.

The next attempt to turn Bald Head into a vacation destination came in 1916, when developer Thomas Frank Boyd bought the island and dubbed it “Palmetto Island.” Boyd lost the island in the Great Depression.

User-contributed question by:
Mark K.

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