Boats and barges traveling along the Ohio River have used an unofficial lighthouse as a point of reference in recent years. The lighthouse also brightens the spirit of the man responsible for creating it.
There’s a dot on the map just east of Cannelton called Dodd, Indiana. For the past 20 years it has been home to Mason’s Landing Lighthouse. Owner Jack Brown says the idea for building the lighthouse along the Ohio River came after a seismic shift destroyed his family’s original home.
“In 1983 the land shifted, and I lost my house. So, then we moved to town, Tell City. I decided, look, I own this property and have a nice view, I’m gonna do something with it,” says Brown.
In 1996 Brown began gathering rip rap and limestone rocks mixing his own mortar moving each stone himself creating 42-foot lighthouse with a medieval castle theme. The property is known as Mason’s Landing Lighthouse.
Brown says as progress was made, he still heard doubts from his closest friends. “I had a lot of my friends in the early years say, you’ll never get that done. Way down there laying rocks. Poof. Next thing you know I’m done,” says Brown.
44News caught up with Brown, he was still tinkering, contemplating his next task in the ambitious never-ending project. “I’ve got designs of things I want to build and keep building, but hey. My rocks have got to be a little bit smaller now. I’m 80,” says Brown.
Brown says he was inspired to create the lighthouse after a family trip up the Ohio River.
“I got bored. Because all you can see is trees. Just like you see here. Trees, trees, trees so I thought, I got this view here and people coming down the river. If I build a lighthouse, they’ll like it when they come by,” says Brown.
Tours of Mason’s Landing Lighthouse are by appointment only, but Brown says he often entertains school groups and others intrigued by the unique structure traversing through different themed rooms within the castle.
“I have a dive room, which features dive equipment. Both hard hat diving and scuba diving. One room is dedicated to pirates. So, the top room here is called the lamp room,” says Brown.
The most important item in any lamp room, the lamp itself, an item Brown found at a local auction hosted by the owners of what was once known as Santa Clause Land.
Brown has commissioned others to help with his lifelong passion over the years – particularly his biggest supporter – his wife…
“She would put some rock in a wheelbarrow, and I’d laying rock, and I’d hear something bloomp, bloomp. And I’d look around, and there would be some rocks at my feet, and every rock would be the wrong rock. So, she quit.”
Another oddity within the limestone walls, a huge collection of water skis. Brown and his wife often entertaining family and friends teaching each the finer points of the sport. When asked if he would ever sell the property Brown has a prepared pitch.
“If somebody would like to have a lighthouse or a castle or both. I’d entertain offers,” says Brown.
Although Brown does not mention his exact asking price, he is opening allowing another family to enjoy this Tri-State Treasure.