Welcome to Elizabeth City. While ever growing, it is still a small town with a big heart. You are looking for a small cache in a very busy place, so stealth is key. Please enter and begin the hunt from the park/boardwalk side. Happy hunting.
Located at the narrows of the Pasquotank River, the area that would become Elizabeth City soon served as a trading site, and as early as the mid 18th century, inspection stations and ferries were established. With the addition of minor roads, a schoolhouse, and soon a church, a small community was established at these narrows.
In 1793, construction of the Dismal Swamp Canal began, which would drive Elizabeth City's commerce, and the North Carolina Assembly incorporated the town of "Redding". In 1794, the town was renamed "Elizabethtown", but due to confusion with another town of the same name, in 1801, the city was renamed "Elizabeth City". The name "Elizabeth" has been attributed to Elizabeth "Betsy" Tooley, a local tavern proprietress who donated much of the land for the new town.
The improvements made to the Dismal Swamp Canal made Elizabeth City a financial center of trade and commercially successful for the early 19th century. In 1826, the federal government purchased 600 stocks in the canal and, in 1829, additional funds for improvements were raised by the Norfolk lottery. With these funds, the Dismal Swamp Canal was widened and deepened, allowing for larger boats to ship their goods.
Further bolstering Elizabeth City's financial success was the movement in 1827 of the customs house from Camden County to Elizabeth City. From only 1829 to 1832, Elizabeth City's tolls tripled. During the American Civil War the Confederate States had a small fleet stationed at Elizabeth City. After the Battle of Roanoke Island the Union forces sent a fleet to take the city. There was a small skirmish that followed which ended in a Union victory. Elizabeth City was under Union control for the remainder of the war, though Confederate irregulars engaged in guerrilla warfare with Union forces in the area for the remainder of the war.
Meanwhile, overland travel slowly improved, furnishing greater trade between neighboring counties, and a ferry continued to be used for transport between Elizabeth City and Camden County. However, the completion of competing canals and railroads around Elizabeth City diverted some of its financial success to neighboring cities. The Portsmouth and Weldon Railroad, completed in the 1830s, allowed for goods to be transported from the Roanoke River directly to Weldon, and the Albemarle–Chesapeake Canal, completed in 1859, created a deeper channel for merchants shipping goods from the eastern Albemarle Sound to Norfolk.
Such new opportunities established Elizabeth City as a thriving deep-water port whose varied industries as lumbering, shipbuilding, grain, fish and oyster processing, together once made the city a formidable regional economic center rivaling that of Norfolk, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland. With the 1881 establishment of the Elizabeth City and Norfolk Railroad, later renamed the Norfolk Southern Railway, water-based shipping was rendered less relevant, with many of the waterside industries relocating to the growing cities of North Carolina's Upper Coastal Plain and Piedmont.
The declaration of World War II reinvigorated Elizabeth City's industries, particularly in shipbuilding, textiles and aeronautics. Establishment of Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City in 1940 as well as Navy Air Station Weeksville in 1941 provided valuable surveillance by seaplane and dirigible of German U-boats actively targeting American merchant shipping in East Coast waters. Additionally from 1942 to 1944, the Elizabeth City Shipyard manufactured thirty 111-foot SC-class submarine chasers, four YT-class yard tugboats, and six 104-foot QS-class quick supply boats. The Elizabeth City Shipyard not only built the largest number of subchasers for the war effort (30 out of 438 total), but also set the record construction time for the SC-class, with SC-740 laid down in only thirty days. As of June 2013, the Elizabeth City Shipyard is still in operation.
For two years, 1950 and 1951, Elizabeth City was home to a professional minor league baseball team. The Elizabeth City Albemarles played in the Class D Virginia League. Previously the town had fielded a team for several seasons in the semipro Albemarle League.
The conclusion of the war led to a levelled economy as industry withdrew gradually over the following decades to form the service, government and agriculture-dominant economic sectors present today. Starting in the late 1990s, revival efforts in tourism and civic revitalization centered over downtown and the city's five historic districts have led to increasing economic stability.