Since its incorporation in 1888, the town of Southport's residents had hoped for rail service to aid in the establishment of their town as a coaling station and shipping terminal at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. In 1905, a charter that eventually failed was granted to the South Atlantic Terminal Company. By 1911, a new company, the Wilmington, Brunswick, and Southport Railroad had begun daily rail service between Wilmington and Southport, including a spur line with a trestle extension that allowed coal burning steamers to fill their bunkers with coal directly from the railroad cars. During World War I, soldiers returning on leave dubbed the W.B.&S. the \"Willing But Slow\" due to its slow progress in returning them to their homes in Wilmington.