Swansboro is a historic, water-oriented town sitting on the Intracoastal Waterway along the mouth of the White Oak River. It is the only geographic area of those described here that is not in Carteret County. It is in Onslow County, on the west side of the Crystal Coast. Many fishing boats call Swansboro home, and residents keep sport-fishing boats at marinas in Swansboro. You can reach Swansboro by taking either N.C. 58 (from Bogue Banks) or N.C. 24 (from Morehead City).
From its origins as the site of an Algonquian Indian village to its current status as the "Friendly City by the Sea," Swansboro is a lovely place to visit because of its mild climate and friendly citizens.
The town began about 1730, when Jonathan and Grace Green moved to the area from Falmouth, Massachusetts. With them, and owning half of their property, was Jonathan Green's brother, Isaac. They lived there about five years until Jonathan Green died at the early age of 35. His widow, Grace, married Theophilus Weeks, who had moved with his family from Falmouth to settle on Hadnot Creek a few miles up the White Oak River.
After their marriage, the Weeks moved into the Green family home on the Onslow County side of the White Oak River. Theophilus soon purchased all of Isaac Green's interest and became sole owner of the large plantation. Weeks first farmed, then opened a tavern and was appointed inspector of exports at the thriving port. In 1771 he started a town on that portion of his plantation called Weeks Wharf, selling 48 numbered lots recorded as being "in the plan of a town laid out by Theophilus Weeks," thus earning him the title of founder of the town.
Originally called Weeks Point, the New-Town-upon-Bogue was established by law in 1783. The General Assembly named the town Swannsborough, in honor of Samuel Swann, former speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives and longtime Onslow County representative.
Swansboro (the later spelling of the town's name) was home to the famous Otway Burns. During the War of 1812, this native son became a privateer with his schooner, the Snapdragon. His participation during this "Second War of Independence" was acclaimed as an act of bravery and patriotism. After the war, he returned to the trade of shipbuilding and was later appointed keeper of the lighthouse at Portsmouth, where he died in 1850. He is buried in Beaufort's Old Burying Ground.
Swansboro's port continued to prosper, mainly because nearby pine forests produced the lumber, tar, pitch and other naval items shipped through the port. Prosperity continued until the end of the Civil War. Then, gradually, the town came to support itself with farming and fishing.
Swansboro features an historic downtown section built along the water's edge. Here you will find old structures, specialty and antiques shops, restaurants and plenty of space to stroll and gaze at the water and boats. The town's historic commission supervises the restoration of many of the town's oldest structures.