Monday, February 02, 2015

Screw-Pile Lighthouses

According to an article in the Elizabeth City, NC, Daily Advance, August 24, 2014, about the historic Roanoke River screw-pile lighthouse, "By the end of the 19th century, the United States, with its long coastlines had more lighthouses than any other nation."

Ocracoke Island, of course, boasts one of those historic lighthouses.

But Ocracoke is not a screw-pile lighthouse. Screw-pile lighthouses were designed to be placed in sounds, bays and rivers. Typically they were one-and-a-half story buildings mounted on threaded wooden (later, steel) pilings that were screwed into the sandy or muddy bottom.

According to Wikipedia, "Perhaps as many as 100 spider-like, cottage-type (1½-storey wooden dwelling) screwpile lighthouses were built...."  NCpedia claims that "At least six screw-pile lighthouses hovered over North Carolina's sound waters in the second half of the nineteenth century."

One of those screw-pile lighthouses was located in Pamlico Sound. Built in 1904, the Bluff Shoal Lighthouse was located about 7 1/2 miles from Ocracoke. It is no longer extant. 

Bluff Shoal Lighthouse

I believe the Roanoke River lighthouse (mentioned above) may be the only North Carolina screw-pile lighthouse still existing and restored to its original appearance, although it has been moved to Edenton.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here:


  1. Anonymous11:56 AM

    The selection of lighthouse keeper was this a political plum job. They brought the guy out of retirement to be the spokesperson for the Coast Guard during the gulf of mexico deep water drilling environmental disaster. How much money did that?? It s curious because from what I understand a new person was to be in rotation for that area when the Oatmeal hit the fan and a seasoned professional was deemed necessary. What is the mood on the thought on OI of off shore drilling on the Eastern Seaboard ??

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