For many, many years a stately cypress tree stood in the midst of the Edenton harbor. No one is entirely sure just how long the tree was there, but legend suggests it was standing long before the first English colonists set foot in the Albemarle region.

Somehow, a curious custom grew up around the tree. Whenever a ship of trade called at Edenton, it was almost obligatory for the master to place a bottle of the best Jamaican rum in a hollow place in the trunk. Whenever a ship left for foreign parts, the vessel would stop at the tree, and all hands would drink to a safe voyage. Thus it was that the old cypress became known as "the Dram Tree."

Ships whose crews failed to drink of the Dram Tree or, even worse, failed to place a bottle there when entering port were doomed to disaster. Many are the tales of ill-fated vessels that met violent storms or were becalmed in the doldrums.

The tree survived until the spring of 1918, when a tremendous ice floe vanquished the landmark to the sound's waters.

Published here by kind permission of Claiborne S. Young's Cruising Guide.


Surfside Beach