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Upper Jettee, NC  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Upper Jettee Lighthouse

1851 – Letter of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey to the Secretary of the Treasury, communicating a report of Lieutenant Commanding J. N. Maffitt, U. S. N., assistant in the coast survey, on the necessity for a light-house on the upper jettee, Cape Fear river, N. C. CAPE SMALL PIONT, Near Bath, Maine, October, 15, 1851.

SIR: I have the honor to report, that in conformity with the act approved March 3, 1851, making appropriations for light-houses, buoys, &c., and the instructions of the department, the question of the necessity for a light-house on the upper jettee of Cape Fear river has been examined, and that I recommend the construction of the same, for the reason assigned in the report of Lieutenant Commanding J. N. Maffitt, United States navy, assistant in the coast survey.
The report of Lieutenant Maffitt is herewith transmitted, with the “eye-sketch” which accompanied it.

Very respectfully, yours,
Superintendent U. S. Coast Surrey.

Hon. Thomas Corwin,
Secretary of the Treasury.

Smithville, N. C., September 12, 1851.

DEAR SIR: I have visited the “upper jettees of Cape Fear river,” and herewith enclose to you an “eye-sketch” of that section, where some improvements are requisite for the benefit of navigation. On the upper eastern jettee (No. 2), a light is certainly required, that steamers and sailing-vessels bound down at night may be enabled to keep the “fair channel way,” which they cannot always do at present, from the fact, that as the field of view is opened from just above Graham's island, jettee No. 2 trenches entirely athwart the apparent channel, and there is no guide which will enable a mariner to calculate how to steer, in order to clear this jettee, and keep in the best water, which is close to its end. The same holds good (from the sudden bend of the river) in sailing up. It is not an uncommon circumstance at night for vessels to misjudge their distance, and run into jettee No. 2. The upper western jettee is out of the channel way; a light there would be useless.
The “reaches" over “Wreck shoal" are not long enough to warrant the erection of “range lights.”
I consider it necessary that the present buoys be replaced by larger ones; and as the forest on each side gives a dark back-ground, they should be painted white; they would then always be seen on a starlight night.
I also propose that “tripods,” painted white, be erected on jettees Nos. 3, 4, and 6. They would materially assist the navigator in avoiding the shoals, and jettees themselves, which are low in the water, dilapidated, and more dangerous to vessels than beneficial to the river.
A requisite light-house for the upper eastern jettee should not cost over four thousand dollars.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieut. Com. and Assistant Coast Survey.

Prof. A. D. BACHE,
Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey, Washington. 1853 – In the sixth district, embracing the coasts of part of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and part of Florida—Captain D. P. Woodbury, United States corps of engineers, inspector—in addition to the ordinary routine duty of inspection, repairs to light-house towers, buildings, light vessels, and illuminating apparatus, raising, cleaning, painting, numbering and replacing buoys, the following special works have been placed under the charge of the inspector: The light-house on the upper jettee, Cape Fear river; light-house on Bogue banks; three beacon-lights at Georgetown, S. C :beacon on Morris island, Charleston harbor, and a new light house off Cape Romain. Plans for all of these works are in progress; and as soon as the necessary preliminary steps in regard to the selection of sites, obtaining deeds and cessions of jurisdiction, are completed, the works will be commenced and prosecuted vigorously.

1854 – Under construction.

1855 – “Light-house on the upper jettee of Cape Fear river.”

The balance left of this appropriation, $5,610 93, when the present Light-house Board was organized, was hardly sufficient for the intended object. To accomplish the same end, in a more efficient and economical manner, a substitute has been proposed and approved, viz: a range of lights on the eastern bank of the Cape Fear river, two and a half miles below Wilmington, running about fifty yards outside the upper jettee and along the channel, one mile below the jettee and one and a half mile above.

After considerable delay a site has been purchased, the title duly investigated and approved, and the dwelling-house, which is also the front beacon, has been framed, and will soon be erected.


A fixed light of the natural color will be exhibited for the first time on the evening of March 1st, 1856, on a house recently erected on the east bank of Cape Fear river, three miles below Wilmington, N. C.

The illuminating apparatus will be a sixth order lens, placed in a lantern on top of the keeper's house, and having an elevation of forty-two feet above the mean level of the river. The house is a wooden structure painted white. On the same evening will be exhibited for the first time a Beacon Light of the same order, distant eight hundred feet from the front light, and bearing N. 9° 50' E. The beacon is an open frame painted white, twenty feet square at the bottom, and eight feet square at top, surmounted by a closed lantern, at an elevation of about sixty-five feet above the level of the river. The two above-described lights make a range passing about one hundred and fifty feet west of the head of the Upper Jettee on the east side of the river, and also along the channel, beginning about one mile below and ending about a mile and a half above the Jettee.

By order of the Light-house Board, D. P. WOODBURY, Capt. Engineers. WILMINGTON, N. C, February 11, 1856.

1867 – Upper jettee range.—This station, like the former, was entirely destroyed during the war. An estimate for its re-establishment is submitted.

1868 - Upper jettee.—These range lights were extinguished by the rebels in 1861, and the structures entirely destroyed.

Keepers: Enoch Farron (1856 – 1859), James A. Burch (1859 – ).

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