Outer Banks Lighthouses: Facts, History and Tours

Outer Banks LighthousesThere are several Outer Banks lighthouses in the area and 3 of them accessible by easy car drive without ferries involved and each one has their own story. For centuries, lighthouses have served as beacons for sailors to aid them in their return from sea.

The Outer Banks lighthouses are no exception. At one point or another, they have all served their fellow seamen well and while they may seem obsolete now that there is so much technology, it is still nice to know that they can provide a purpose for anyone who may have lost their way.

Outer Banks Lighthouses – History

• Cape Hatteras lighthouse was originally constructed during 1803. It stood 90 feet and did not produce sufficient light and in 1854 they built a new one. However, the Civil War and shell damage took its toll and it was rebuilt in 1870.This is the one that still stands to this day. During 1999, this lighthouse became one of the top places to visit in North Carolina because of the relocation efforts by the town. They moved it over ½ mile due to the Atlantic Ocean’s encroachment.

• Bodie Island Lighthouse was constructed originally in 1847. It was abandoned in 1959 because of a poorly laid foundation. That same year, they rebuilt the lighthouse, but in just 2 short years, it was destroyed in the Civil War. By 1872, the lighthouse, which still remains today, was rebuilt again.

• The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse has been rebuilt 3 times since its original construction during the 1800s. Today, it serves as a historical facility showcasing the maritime history of the seaman of Roanoke Island.

Outer Banks Lighthouses – Facts

• The lighthouse in Cape Hatteras was originally fueled by whale oil, and then kerosene replaced it as the major source of fuel. As of 1934, the beam that shone the light became electric. By the 1940s, they replaced the old lamps and installed 2 lamps, each 1000 watts in strength. These lights can now be seen for over 20 miles in the horizon.

• Bodie Lighthouse was actually constructed using some of the leftover materials used on the lighthouse in Cape Hatteras. It is 150 feet and uses a beacon equal to 160,000 candles to shine its light approximately 19 miles in the distant horizon.

• Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse was one of the first in the Outer Banks to be decommissioned. It was known as a screwpile lighthouse because of its design, which varies widely from standard lighthouses.

Available Lighthouse Tours

• Tours are only available one day a week for Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is on Saturdays between 9:00 and 5:00 p.m. This makes it one of the Outer Banks attractions you should schedule time to see. The grounds, however, are open every day, but from April through November, the tower remains closed.

• Bodie Lighthouse offers daily tours and many Outer Banks weddings are held here too. The grounds are meticulously kept, which makes is the perfect setting for nuptials. In addition, there is also a museum on site which depicts early sailors who relied heavily on the use of this masterful lighthouse.

• Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is open each day for tours and the admission is free. The hours will vary during certain times of the year, however.