Price’s Creek Lighthouse is the last remaining standing front “range light” in North Carolina, located close to Southport. Back in the 1800s, a series of navigation lights was desperately needed for the Cape Fear River trade route to Wilmington, spanning a distance of 25 miles. In 1849, Price’s Creek was the final range light to be constructed, and was a front range light in the series.
Credit for the above photo goes to Southport Times, courtesy of Wiki Commons
Rare 1908 post card showing rear range light of Price Creek Range Lights. This light was also the keeper’s dwelling. The exact location of this half of the range pair is unknown, but is close to the front range light which still exists as a ruin.
For those unfamilar with “range lights”, a quick explanation is that range lights were built in pairs, and one shorter one was positioned in front of a taller one. Once lined up so that, from the channel, the taller light rose over the shorter one, travelers knew that they were directly in the center of the channel and had safe passage.
The partner lighthouse to Price’s Creek was slightly over 700 feet upriver, and rose to a thirty five foot height over the relatively short 20 foot tower of Price’s. It also doubled as Lightkeeper’s quarters. However, along with several of NC’s other lighthouses, it was destroyed by the Confederates, in hopes of keeping as many out of the hands of the Union as possible. Although Samuel Mason was the first appointed Lightkeeper, he never took the post, and John Bell filled the position (1850-1853). At the onset of the Civil War, Hanson Ruark was the lightkeeper, and held that position until 1861 (1853-1861). One interesting note: during early Civil War time, the lighthouse also doubled as a way to communicate signals between Fort Fisher and Fort Caswell.
Price’s orignally had a total of 8 lamps and 8 reflectors, but was eventually upgraded with a sixth order Fresnel lens, giving off a fixed white light.
Eventually, the rear lighthouse of this pair substained so much storm damage, etc, that is was dismantled and the bricks went to other uses. Price’s front lighthouse is pretty well in severe disrepair itself, with missing windows and lantern room. It is located on private land, owned by Archer Daniels Midland Corporation, and there is no public access for this lighthouse. You can view it, though, by taking the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry. It is viewable from the ferry near the landing for Southport..please note: it is NOT viewable from the landing itself..you actually have to take the ferry to see it, okay?
Most info here was provided by Lighthouse Friends, with some info gleamed from miscellaneous sites.