Edenton Light

Edenton Light

Print #6851

The Edenton light is of three screw-pile lighthouses once guarding navigation on Carolina sounds. The other two were lost at sea.

[Photo caption: The Edenton light viewed through bald cypress trees near the mouth of Queen Anne Creek.]

A screw-pile lighthouse was mounted in pilings literally screwed into the soft substrate – sand or mud. On the rivers and sounds of coastal Carolina, firm ground was rarely found where a lighthouse was needed. Edenton wasn’t the place where a light was needed. It was moved from the Albemarle Sound.

A Lighthouse for $10

The Roanoke Light replaced a lightship at the mouth of the Roanoke River. Roanoake Light was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1941. It remained in place, dark and without purpose, for almost 15 years. In 1955, the three screw-pile lighthouses remaining on Carolina sounds were sold to Elijah Tate of Coinjock, an entrepreneurial former employee of the Lighthouse Service, for $10 each. Presumably, he had some use for them.

A Lighthouse Shipwrecked

Unfortunately, the barge transporting the Roanoke Marsh Lighthouse capsized and sank. The Wade Point Lighthouse was also lost in transit on Currituck sound in rough weather. Tate cut his losses and sold the remaining Roanoke River Lighthouse to Emmett Wiggins for the same $10 he paid for it.

Wiggins owned a marine salvage business and successfully moved the surviving lighthouse to Edenton. He used a World War II surplus landing craft to float the lighthouse Edenton, grounding it in the mouth of Filberts Creek, and lived there until his death.

I can imagine Wiggins climbing the stairs to the lightroom from the lightkeepers’ quarters, watching the clouds sweep across the Albemarle Sound, listening to the wind whistling through the balustrade surrounding the tower. It would have been a good place to live.

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Charles Thrasher

An avid photographer deeply interested in the culture, geography, and history of coastal Carolina.
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