Why do we have lighthouses? It is recorded that the Egyptians built the first lighthouse. During the American explorations in the 16th and 17th centuries, explorers found the coastal waters dark and unwelcoming. Many ships were lost because there were no lights to guide the sailors to safe harbor. The year 1716 changed all of that with the completion of America’s first lighthouse near the Boston harbor.
Mapping the Outer Banks Six of the most popular lighthouses are located on the outer banks of North Carolina. They are: Bald Head Lighthouse Ocracoke Lighthouse Cape Lookout Lighthouse Currituck Lighthouse Bodie Lighthouse Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Bald Head Lighthouse North Carolina’s first lighthouse, Bald Head was established during George Washington’s last year as president. This makes Bald Head the oldest standing lighthouse. Given the nickname “Old Baldy,” it stands at 90 feet with a visibility of about 18 miles out to sea. The confederate disabled the lighthouse in January, 1865. While it is no longer operational, Bald Head is considered a historic monument and museum.
Ocracoke Lighthouse Considered the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina, Ocracoke stands at 76 feet with a visibility of about 14 miles out to sea. Ocracoke Lighthouse was struck by lightening and burned down in 1818? It was rebuilt later that same year. In 1823 the northern and southern troops controlled the lighthouse during the Civil War. The brilliant white wash and nearby picket fence are its familiar features. The lighthouse is still operational.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse Cape Lookout Lighthouse is often referred to as having a diamond pattern, but its true design is recorded as “painted as black and white checkers”. The Lighthouse stands at 169 feet. When the lighthouse was first built in 1812, it stood at only 95 feet. It was considered too short for its light to be effective during mist and poor weather. From spring of 1862 until the end of the war, the lighthouse was occupied by the Federal Forces. It is still operational with a visibility of about 19 miles out to sea.
Currituck Lighthouse Currituck Beach Lighthouse or Currituck Lighthouse stands at 162 feet. Currituck Lighthouse was given the same design as Bodie, Cape Lookout, and Cape Hatteras. However, it was left in its red exposed brick design to help distinguish it by daylight. It was never painted. Currituck was illuminated on December 1, 1875. It has a visibility of about 19 miles out to sea. The lighthouse is still operational.
Bodie Lighthouse Bodie Lighthouse stands at 150 feet with a visibility of about 19 miles out to sea. The first building of Bodie Lighthouse was delayed for 10 years because of disagreements about its location. Though the lighthouse was controlled by the union, in 1861 Bodie was blown up by the Confederate Troops when they slipped in. The new Bodie Lighthouse was modeled after Cape Lookout and is still operational.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest Lighthouse in America. It was the first to be used as a warning light for sailors. The first lighthouse only stood at 95 feet but its beacon was not high enough to be seen by vessels. It is considered the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of the many ship wrecks that occurred. It stands over 200 feet with a visibility of about 20 miles. Over the years Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has been attacked by the Union and the Confederate forces. It has also been damaged by sea erosion. There have existed 3 different Cape Hatteras Lighthouses but it has been moved twice.