The brick beacon is all that
remains of the unique pre-Civil War lighthouse called Price’s Creek
lighthouse, which is located along the banks of the Cape Fear River.
The lighthouse is located in
Southport, NC, and it is one of Southport’s treasured
landmarks. Almost every local has a story to share about the only
remaining of eight authorized lighthouses by Congress in 1848. For
years, merchants and mariners lobbied for lights to mark the
passageway along the Cape Fear River. Congress approved the building
of eight lighthouses to illuminate the 25-mile stretch of the Cape
Fear River between
and Wilmington. Price's Creek Lighthouse was contracted to be 20
feet high with three feet thick walls.
It was the last lighthouse to
be built and it was completed in 1849. It was constructed entirely
out of bricks brought over from England. It originally had eight
lamps and eight fourteen inch reflectors. There were two beacons
standing next to each other at this site: a 20-foot circular brick
structure and a wooden structure on top of a keeper's brick house.
The first assigned keeper was Samuel C. Mason, but he never took the
position. John Bell became the first actual keeper.
During the Civil War,
Confederate soldiers used Price’s Creek lighthouse as a signal
station. The beacons were a means of communication between Fort
Fisher and Fort Caswell. In the
hands of the Confederate States Signal Corps, the beacons served
military and civilian blockade-runners. They used the beacons as a
means of navigating the river and for identifying shore batteries.
The wooden tower located on top of the keeper’s brick house suffered
heavy damage during the war and eventually disintegrated over time.
Years later after destruction of the keeper’s house, the bricks were
used to build a home in Southport.
destroyed seven of the eight lighthouses when they lost control of
the Cape Fear River. Price’s Creek lighthouse is the only one which
survived complete destruction, but it was heavily damaged and was
never operable again. Confederates hoped the destruction of the
lighthouses would impede the advance of the Union soldiers and
prevent them from safely navigating the river.
Today Price’s Creek lighthouse
sits on private property which is not accessible to the public. The
best way to view it is on the top level of the
Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry
as it approaches the Southport landing.
The land housing the Price’s
Creek lighthouse is owned by Archer Daniels Midland Corporation. The
grounds are sealed off and the small structure cannot be seen from
most vantage points. There have been several efforts to get Archer
Daniels Midland Corporation to restore Price’s Creek lighthouse. So
far they have refused to do so. This is a dishonor because it is an
important and intriguing part of history.
Despite there not being any
foreseeable efforts to restore Price’s Creek lighthouse, it remains
as a steady reminder of days long ago. It is also the last remaining
evidence of the once bustling trade route along the Cape Fear River
Whether Price’s Creek
lighthouse is restored or not, there is one fact which cannot be
disputed, it is a historic memento, which will forever have a place
in history and in Southport, NC.
2007. All Rights Reserved.