Pamlico's Past

Exploring the History of the Pamlico River and Sound

The following article appeared in The Goose Creek Islander, 1874-1974.[North Carolina] : [Centennial Committee], [1974]

By Sandra Banks
A light and tower marker was placed at the entrance of the Pamlico River on Pamlico Point Shoal in 1828 by the United States Coast Guard. This lighthouse tower has an unusual history in that during the Civil War Federal troops set fire to the structure in an attempt to destroy it, but the Confederates arrived in time and put out the fire.

1828 Pamlico Point Lighthouse1828 Pamlico Point LighthouseLittleton Potter was an attendant for the tower in the middle 1800s. His grave bears no marker; but his wife's, Abby Gill Potter, bears the dates 1840-1881. The family lived in the attendants' dwelling located near the tower on the shoal. Noah Ireland (1832-1917) is reported to have been an attendant of the lighthouse at one time.

The United States Coast Guard had no information concerning the attendants; therefore, we obtained the data of Littleton Potter from the grave of his daughter, Laura Potter Lewis, in Campbell's Creek, North Carolina. The inscription from the grave marker reads, "Born at Pamlico Lighthouse."

1899 Chart of Pamlico Point Lighthouse1899 Chart of Pamlico Point LighthouseThe brick tower later crumbled and fell into the water. Residents hauled the bricks in boats to their homesites for personal use. The site of the remaining underground structure has become a popular fishing place.

A screwpile light station was erected on Gull Shoal near Pamlico Point in November of 1891 by the United States Coast Guard. The light station was hexagonal shaped, eight nautical miles from Goose Creek, and reached by boat.
The focal plane of the lantern was 40 feet above the mean sea level. The superstructure was wood, painted white. The substructure was brown, and the foundation was made of iron pilings. The lamp was a "Heap-Funck" and had a wick burner. The fog signal was a Stevens machine and had a double blow every 10 seconds.

1891 Pamlico Point Screwpile Lighthouse1891 Pamlico Point Screwpile LighthouseThe light station had one keeper and one assistant. Captain Robinson “Rob” Ireland (1844-1900) was me first keeper of the new light station; he had a wooden leg. He and his family lived in the "house" over the water.
Captain Bob Hopkins was assistant to Captain Rob Ireland and believed to have become the keeper at Captain Rob's "death. Captain Mumford Guynn (1862-1931), who moved here from Hatteras, was a keeper, and Jim Casey was his assistant. Peter Gallop and Vernon Gaskill were later attendants at the light station.
The use of attendants was discontinued when the wooden structure was disassembled. 

Pamlico Point Light TodayPamlico Point Light Today

The steel structure remains today with a light marker that is battery powered to mark the Pamlico Point and Gun Shoals.

(Information from Chris Taylor, Lieut. USCGR, Public Inf. Office, Fifth Coast Guard District, Portsmouth, Virginia and attendants names from Senior Citizens).


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