Digest>Archives> September 2006

The Doomsday List: Roanoke River Lighthouse

By Timothy Harrison

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Side and back view of the Roanoke River ...
Photo by: Stephen Wilmoth

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.

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This close up shows the wood siding of the ...
Photo by: Stephen Wilmoth

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.

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This back view of the Roanoke River Lighthouse ...

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.

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You can see what an architecturally-beautiful ...
Photo by: Robert D. DaVia

He later put it up for sale, but no buyers came forward,

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This photograph clearly shows damage to the ...
Photo by: Stephen Wilmoth

reportedly because the price was too high.

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This close up photograph of the lantern room by ...
Photo by: Mike Boucher

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.

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This vintage photo shows the Roanoke River ...

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.

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Access to the Roanoke River Lighthouse is via ...
Photo by: Stephen Wilmoth

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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