So many people today, and I am among them, are fascinated by lighthouses. I cannot speak for others, but for me, I feel a sense of calm, peacefulness and serenity when I am around or near them. They are our light in the darkness. They can be very mysterious and spiritual. No matter how high a lighthouse may be, when you reach the top, you can always hear the soothing sounds of the waves below. North Carolina lighthouses are some of the tallest and most wonderful of lighthouses in the world. As of this writing, there are 9 Lighthouses located in North Carolina. My personal goal is to be able to climb each one of them before my time is up on Earth.
The first Lighthouse build in NC was in 1796 on Bald Head Island, to assist the ships that were coming into the Cape Fear River. At the time it only cost $7,359 to build the lighthouse. It was rebuild in 1817 and cost more than $15,000. This all important beacon has a total of 109 steps to the top and has withstood many hurricanes, high rough winds and devastating weather. Unfortunately this lighthouse has been de-activated as a working beacon, but it is a sight to behold from the top as it stands 110 feet tall. Today it is known as “Old Baldy”.
The second oldest lighthouse in NC is located on the island of Ocracoke. This lighthouse stands only 75 feet high and was built in 1823. It is the shortest of the lighthouses located on the Outer Banks, but certainly not the least useful. The reason for the shortness is because it lights the inlet rather than the coast line. This is a working lighthouse to this day and can be seen from a distance of 14 miles out in the sea.
There is not much information that can be located regarding the Prices’s Creek Lighthouse, which is located in Southport, NC. It was built in 1848, but now is missing most of it’s life. What is left stands only about 20 feet and is well hidden from would-be admirers. It is located on private property and no one can seem to get any information or locate the owners. This is such a shame as this lighthouse does have history and it should be resurrected and preserved as a part of NC’s history. The Southport – Fort Fisher ferry actually travels past the lighthouse, and this is the only way to get to view it.
One would have to say that the Cape Lookout Lighthouse was one of the first lighthouses built, as it was built originally in 1812, but the lighthouse you see today was built in 1859 standing 156 feet tall with 201 steps to the top. It is painted with a very distinctive diamond pattern, which was put into effect by the new lighthouse keeper in 1873.
The Roanoke River Lighthouse was originally built in 1867, but in 2007 was moved by a private owner in Edenton and is in the process of renovations. It stands 75 feet tall. It is one of the remaining few that used to sit in the Pamlico, Albemarle & Croatan Sounds.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse is located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and stands 156 feet above sea level. Unfortunately the lighthouse is closed to the public, but when visiting you can still go to see the keeper’s house, which has been turned into a museum. The beacon of the lighthouse is visible at a distance of 19 miles in the sea.The original Bodie Island lighthouse was built in 1847, was 54 feet tall but very unstable. The new tower was erected in 1859 and was only 80 feet tall, then in 1861 it became victim to the Civil War. The confederates seized the tower and destroyed it.
Probably the most famous of all NC Lighthouses is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Erected in 1872, and stands 198 feet tall. It has been moved and renovated so as to preserve this remarkable landmark of the Outer Banks. This lighthouse has so much history that it is impossible to capture it here in this little tiny space. I recommend anyone wishing to know more to Google Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and read the many articles that have been written.
The newest of the North Carolina Lighthouses is the Oak Island lighthouse, located on Caswell Beach south of Wilmington. The lighthouse stands 158 feet tall and sits on a Coast Guard Station where it is manned 24 hrs a day. This lighthouse was put into operation on May 15th 1958, only 51 years ago. This is the brightest of all lighthouses in the Western Hemisphere and rated as the second brightest in the world.