The town of Plymouth, North Carolina, is reconstructing the 1866 Roanoke River lighthouse as part of its waterfront redevelopment project. Plymouth is located on the south bank of the Roanoke a few miles above the spot where the river empties into Albemarle Sound. The original lighthouse was built on a screwpile foundation in the sound, off the mouth of the river. After it was destroyed by ice in 1885, it was replaced by a second lighthouse, which served until it was deactivated in 1941. The 1885 lighthouse was relocated in 1955 to Edenton, the historic colonial capital of North Carolina, on the other side of the sound. It has been in use there ever since as a private residence.
Photos copyright 2003 Russ Rowlett
The lighthouse has a square design, first used around 1857. Many lighthouses of this design were built in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, but none of them survive today. The replica will house a museum centered on the lighthouse heritage of the Albemarle Sound area -- a heritage largely forgotten today. A walkway along the river bank connects the lighthouse to the town's Port O'Plymouth historical museum, housed in the former train station.
These photos, taken in the rain on May 17, 2003, show the nearly completed lighthouse. Note the privy on the left side of the structure. The building is an exact replica of the original, built using the plans preserved at the National Archives.
Plymouth is located on US 64, the main route to the Outer Banks from the west. Overhead signs on the highway direct visitors to the town's historic waterfront area. When you reach the waterfront, turn left; the lighthouse is only a few blocks away on the right.
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May 24, 2003. Checked and revised June 6, 2013. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.