Photographs by Dean Stephens of the Patriot Blogs
North Carolina's endangered Roanoke River Lighthouse has been moved and is now officially on its way to being restored and saved in Colonial Park at Edenton's downtown waterfront.
Many of our long time subscribers are familiar with the lighthouse, having read about its plight for many years in past issues of Lighthouse Digest. We've also reported on the replica of the lighthouse that was built. Although the replica is wonderful, moving and saving the real lighthouse is a step that most people thought would never happen.
The 1887 lighthouse was built in Albermarle Sound to replace an earlier structure that had been destroyed by ice in 1885. Before that a lightship, which is a floating lighthouse, was stationed at the site as early as 1835.
In the early 1940s the Roanoke River Lighthouse was decommissioned and left abandoned. Emmett Wiggins purchased the lighthouse in 1955 and he barged it to the mainland, thus saving one of the last surviving inland waterways lighthouses that once stood in North Carolina.
Wiggin's barged the lighthouse to a manmade location that was surrounded by private property. He lived in the lighthouse for many years. Upon his death his son tried to sell the lighthouse but no buyers came forward and the property fell into a state of disrepair and was damaged in storms. Many thought it would not be saved. However, local community initiatives were started that led to ownership of the lighthouse and its move.
After initial preparations and planning, the actual move took only one day, first by truck and then by barge. The lighthouse will now be restored and eventually the original Fresnel lens will be reinstalled in the tower. The renovation plans call for the lighthouse to sit on pilings to make it look exactly as it did at its original 1800's location and then be opened to the public as a maritime center.
It took the efforts of many people to make this a reality and they are all to be congratulated for saving this vital part of America's lighthouse heritage.
This story appeared in the
July 2007 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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