Built in 1823, the Ocracoke Lighthouse is North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse still in use.
In fact, Ocracoke Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse still in use in the entire United States, although this is controversial. It has been in constant use since 1823, except for a brief period during the Civil War when the Rebels dismantled the light. It continues to emit its constant fixed beam, visible for 14 miles – a welcome beacon for sailors.
Ocracoke inlet has always been treacherous, perfect for its most famous visitor Edward Teach – Blackbeard. The legends go that before Blackbeard went into battle, he strapped pistols and cutlasses to his body and wove fuses into his long black beard. Just before he stepped aboard the captured ship, he lit the fuses – this flaming beard was terrifying to all who saw it. A lighthouse was really needed for this harbor.
The lighthouse is 75 feet – it is the shortest of the North Carolina lighthouses. It is constructed of brick and plaster and it tapers from 25 feet diameter at the base to only 12 feet at the peak. The walls at the base are 5 feet thick. It is open for viewing, but not accessible for climbing. The reason for its odd conical shape remains a mystery.
No roads lead to Ocracoke Island. You must take one of the ferries that dock in Ocracoke or you can go by private boat. My friend Joy and I sailed into the Silver Lake Harbor on Ocracoke in the eighties – folks said we were one of the first all female crews to arrive and especially on such a small boat – 19 feet. I must say we enjoyed the attention from the coast guard. And Joy even knew one of the guys.
It is well worth the trip to Ocracoke.
North Carolina has many beautiful lighthouses to visit – Bodie Island Lighthouse and Roanoke River Lighthouse (both are a good day trip from Big Mill B&B), Cape Hatteras, Currituck, Oak Island, Bald Head, Cape Fear, Price Creek, Frying Pan Shoals and Federal Point. Why don’t you visit them all?
FOR MORE INFORMATION about OCRACOKE LIGHTHOUSE: (888) 493-3826
GETTING THERE: Ocracoke Island is accessible only by ferry or private boat.
While in Ocracoke, you can visit the lighthouse by foot, bicycle, golf cart…or automobile.
Lighthouse Road, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina 27960, 252-473-2111
- 206 miles east of Raleigh, NC
- 164 miles southwest of Norfolk, VA262 miles southeast of Richmond, VA
- 103 miles south of Duck, NC
- 152 mils east of Big Mill Bed & Breakfast, Williamston, NC 252-792-8787
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