Swansboro's history began around 1730, when the first permanent settlement was established on the former site of an Algonquin Indian village at the mouth of the White Oak River. In 1783, the colonial port town of Swannsborough was incorporated in honor of Samuel Swann, former speaker of the North Carolina House of Commons.
The bustling port of Swannsborough thrived, and shipbuilding became its major industry. The town's most famous ship builder was Captain Otway Burns, builder of the Prometheus, the first steamboat constructed in North Carolina. Captain Burns' earlier exploits as the commander of the privateer vessel, the Snapdragon, had already brought much honor to the town. The port continued to prosper until the end of the Civil War.
The decline of the shipping industry initiated considerable growth of lumber and naval stores, which succumbed to the Great Depression in the 1920s. The town's people then turned to another natural resource, the sea, and the development of the commercial fishing industry.
Marine Corps bases at Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune brought economic growth during the second World War. Growth has continued to the present day, but Swansboro has managed to retain the quaint charm and quiet character of a picturesque colonial port while developing its successful fishing and tourist industries.Visit Swansboro Historical Association.