Not to be confused with North Carolina's Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse or the Roanoke River Lighthouse replica that was recently dedicated, the old 1887 Roanoke River Lighthouse that once stood in Abermarle Sound, North Carolina, is truly in danger of being lost forever.
A beacon first marked the site with a lightship in 1835, which was replaced in 1866 by a screw-pile lighthouse that was destroyed by ice in 1885. Two years later, in 1887 a new beacon was lighted at the site. It served until 1941 when it was deactivated and discontinued. In 1955 the government sold the lighthouse to a local resident, Emmett Wiggins.
Wiggins moved the lighthouse to the mainland on property that was actually a man-made site where it still stands today. Upon Wiggins's death, his son inherited the lighthouse.
He later put it up for sale, but no buyers came forward, reportedly because the price was too high. The lighthouse is actually surrounded by other private property. It appears that the only legal way to get to the lighthouse is across the property of another owner and then only by water.
The original Fresnel lens, which was installed in the tower in 1903, is still in the lantern room, although it is unclear to us, who actually owns the lens.
Numerous people, who have contacted us about the lighthouse, reported that it suffered some damage from Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which was never repaired. A door is open, leaving the interior exposed to the elements and three window panes in the lantern room are gone leaving the historic Fresnel lens and lantern room totally exposed to the weather.
The outcome for the survival of this lighthouse remains uncertain. Unconfirmed reports state that there is some type of local initiative underway to save the lighthouse. We'll keep you posted.
This story appeared in the
September 2006 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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