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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cannon Ferry in Chowan County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

The Herring Fishing Industry

 
 
The Herring Fishing Industry Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 27, 2012
1. The Herring Fishing Industry Marker
Inscription. Cannonís Ferry has a long tradition of herring fishing. Years ago this site had numerous fishing houses where individual fishermen would store their boat and gear and could process their catch.

In the mid 1940S, twelve local fishermen decided to join together to create a cooperative business where fish could be bought, sold, and processed. The business changed hands several times over the years. One of the last owners was the Perry Wynns Fish Company who also operated a fishery in Colerain, NC. During their ownership, the fishery expanded from one large wooden building to several cinder block buildings near the original.

“When the Chowan River prospered, then Chowan County prospered as well. Herringís what kept Chowan County floating.” –Herbert Modlin, third generation fisherman

Many fish houses and fisheries were located at this site. The above photo is an aerial view of Cannonís Ferry in circa 1970s (courtesy of Mack Hendrix). Perry Wynns Fish Company appears in the photo on the left (courtesy of Jane Joyner). On the right boats unload herring at the fishery (courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History).

“Itís hard work, but itís pretty fishing.” –Herbert Byrum, fifth generation fisherman

The Annual "Run"

The
The Herring Fishing Industry Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 27, 2012
2. The Herring Fishing Industry Marker
annual “run” of herring happened each year around Easter, when the dogwoods are in bloom. Using pound nets, fishermen would catch hundreds of herring and would haul their load to the back of the main wooden building. The fish were unloaded onto conveyor belts that took the fish to be washed. The herring were then taken to tables where several women would cut them and collect the roe (herring eggs). Conveyors then took the cut fish to salting bins (or pickling vats) to be preserved. In later years, collected roe was sent to one of the cinder block buildings to be canned. The fish “scrap” was also taken to another building and cooked into fish meal that was used as fertilizer for local crops.

The herring industry provided Chowan County and its residents a strong economy and prominent food source for many years. Although the industry has declined in recent years due to low fish populations, herring fishing remains to be an important part of Chowan County culture.

Joe Byrum (top left) bails herring captured in a pound net into his boat. (Courtesy of Bobby Byrum). (Top center): Illustration of a pound net. (Courtesy of Bobby Byrum). (Right): Illustration of the inside of Perry Wynns Fish Company (Courtesy of Carroll Pery,Jr.)

(Far right): Many local workers were employed at the fishery at Cannonís Ferry to clean and cut herring,
Fish of the Chowan River image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 27, 2012
3. Fish of the Chowan River
can roe, and preserve the herring with salt. (Photos courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History).
 
Location. 36° 16.248′ N, 76° 40.352′ W. Marker is in Cannon Ferry, North Carolina, in Chowan County. Marker is on Cannons Ferry Road 0.4 miles west of Dillardís Mill Road, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Tyner NC 27980, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Chowan River (a few steps from this marker); The Cannonís Ferry Community (a few steps from this marker); War on the Chowan River (within shouting distance of this marker); William P. Roberts (approx. 10.2 miles away); Gates County Confederate Monument (approx. 10.2 miles away); Gates County Courthouse (approx. 10.2 miles away); Reid's Grove School (approx. 11.3 miles away); A Rare Monument (approx. 12.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cannon Ferry.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 
Nearby remnants of the Cannon Ferry fishing industry image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 27, 2012
4. Nearby remnants of the Cannon Ferry fishing industry
Cannon's Ferry Heritage River Walk image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 27, 2012
5. Cannon's Ferry Heritage River Walk
J. Robert Hendrix Park and Cannon's Ferry Heritage River Walk image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher
6. J. Robert Hendrix Park and Cannon's Ferry Heritage River Walk
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 29, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 456 times since then and 79 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 29, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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