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Okracoke Lighthouse

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Rich in history, Okracoke Island became a favorite haunt of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, the infamous pirate. It was here that Blackbeard met his demise at the hands of Lieutenant Robert Maynard, of the Royal Navy.

The original purpose of this light was to assist in navigating the waters between Okracoke and Portsmouth Islands, to reach the Neuse River. New Bern, Elizabeth City, and Edenton were situated inland, but became important port cities.

A wooden tower, in the shape of a pyramid, was built in 1798 on Shell Castle Island, but was deemed ineffective. By 1818, the light was about a mile from the inlet, due to the constantly changing sandbars. Lightning effected the demise of this lighthouse, along with the keeper's cottage.

In 1823, Okracoke Lighthouse was completed in its present location. The brick structure was coated with a mixture of water, salt, lime, whiting, ground rice, and glue. The light stands a mere 75 feet high, but has proven its worth as an effective aid to navigation through the years.

Union forces re-installed the fourth-order lens in 1864 after Confederate troops removed it during the war. In 1897, a second story was added to the keeper's quarters. The light was electrified in the early 1900's, and the stationary beam is visible for 14 miles. It is the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the United States.

Directions: A free ferry runs from Cape Hatteras. Longer ferry trips start at Cedar Island and Swan Quarter. The lighthouse is on Lighthouse Road, just off Highway 12.


Learn more about Okracoke Lighthouse by clicking on the link below.

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American Lighthouse Foundation
Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum Association

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