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What was the purpose of the large stack or vent by the Pilot House?

Amanda Lisk

The black stack by the magnolia tree in front of the downtown riverfront Pilot House is an old steam stack from Wilmington Iron Works, said River Enterprises property manager John Haynes. River Enterprises is the owner of the Pilot House and neighboring Elijah’s Restaurant.

A February 1979 StarNews article supplied by Haynes says, “an explosion sent the top of the air pressure tank hurling through the air, cutting a power line and demolishing a parked car about two blocks away.”

“I remember that one,” Haynes said.

The remaining part left from the explosion, he said, is what stands today.

“The stack stays. It’s part of history,” he said.

According to a Pennsylvania Iron Industry site, steam stacks were part of the stone furnaces where iron was made back in the early 1900s

The Wilmington Iron Works, originally on Water Street between Orange and Ann streets, was moved to Front Street adjacent to the Pilot House, Haynes said, until Hurricane Floyd knocked down one of the walls in 1999. The original bricks and windows were then donated to the Wilmington Historical Society. The spot is today used for handicapped parking.

User-contributed question by:
Pete Stavracos

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