Price's Creek Lighthouse

Nov. 12, 2019

Price's Creek Lighthouse, Brunswick County, North Carolina


Price’s Creek, NC Station Established: 1848 Year Current Tower First Lit: 1849 Operational: no Automated: Deactivated: Foundation Materials: Construction Materials: brick Location: Southport, NC Tower Shape: tapered tower Height: 20’ Markings/Pattern: Relationship to Other Structure: Original Lens:
Height of Focal Plane: 25’ Appropriation:

Historical Information:

  • Considered a range light, and was built as part of a pair to guide merchants and mariners along Cape Fear River. Price’s Creek Light is the only light still standing along the Cape Fear River, and is considered a front range light. The base of the tower has a thickness of three feet, while the top of the tower has a thickness of two feet. The diameter of the circular tower starts out at seventeen feet and shrinks to nine feet at the top.
  • Originally fitted with eight lamps and eight 14 inch reflectors. Eventually replaced with a sixth order Fresnel lens and had a fixed white light. 
  • It’s sister light is located around 700-800 feet upriver and served as keepers quarters. The keepers quarters was a larger, square brick structure with a lantern room on top, and the overall height was 35 feet.
  • Samuel C. Mason was appointed as the first lightkeeper, but never took up the post. John Bell was then appointed to the post and officially became the first lightkeeper at Price’s Creek.
  •  During the Civil War, Price’s Creek Light served as a Confederate signal station. It aided blockade runners in navigating the river and being identified to the shore batteries.
  •  The keeper’s house was turned into a signal station, and provided communication between Fort Caswell and Fort Fisher. The Union eventually gained complete control of the coast, which forced the Confederates to retreat inland.
  •  Confederate soldiers would dismantle or destroy as many lights as they could in order to let the lights remain under the command of their enemy. This included Price’s Creek Light.
  •  All of the river lights had been replaced by unattended beacons by the late 1880?s.
  • Sits on private property and is not open or accessible to the public. The owner has repaired cannon damage from the Civil War, and also repaired some structural decay. The lighthouse is still missing its glass and iron lamp top.
  • After the war, the lighthouses along the Cape Fear River were deemed unnecessary and were decommissioned, perhaps due to the crippled Southern economy. The rear range light at Price’s Creek had sustained storm damage by the end of the century that it was torn down. Bricks from the tower were hauled away and used by locals. The only light to remain standing is the front range light at Price’s Creek, but it is in a state of disrepair. The lantern room is gone, there are missing windows, and the property is privately owned.

Researched and written by Jamie Smith, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.