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Pungo River focus of ECU research

(Oct. 7, 1994)   —   A shoreline survey along the Pungo River starts later this month with an East Carolina University archaeologist hoping to spot remnants of early ships and reminders of a once-important town that is now underwater.
Dr. Lawrence E. Babits of ECU said the survey will identify archaeological sites along the west side of the Pungo River between Pamlico Beach and Woodstock Point in Beaufort County.
Pamlico Beach is a residential community at the mouth of the Pungo River while Woodstock Point is about six miles up the river near Belhaven.
In the 18th Century, the town of Woodstock was the county seat of Hyde County until the courthouse burned in 1789. A post office operated in Woodstock until 1822. Today, the river covers the foundations of the town’s old buildings.
Babits said the survey team will do a visual inspection of the shoreline and will pull a magnetometer behind a boat to record metal objects on the river’s bottom.
A similar survey of another section of the river’s shoreline last year revealed dozens of submerged objects. While some of the objects may be parts from old ships, the archaeologist said it was just as likely that some of the targets spotted by the magnetometer were crabpots, buckets and engine blocks.
He said divers will inspect the submerged objects later to determine if they have historical value.
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources has funded the research with a $6,000 grant. Babits is a professor in the ECU Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology program.