I recently wrote an article on the Oregon Lighthouses so I thought I would do something on the Atlantic Ocean. The problem is you could write a book if you started talking about the East Coast lighthouses so I decided to concentrate on one important area in North Carolina.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore has a lot to offer. It extends more than seventy miles on the northeast part of the state. It includes three islands: Ocracoke, Hatteras and Bodie Island. These islands are connected by a free bridge and free ferry service.
Actually, the first two Bodie Island Lighthouses were on Pea Island, an area now underwater. The first one, built in 1847 was abandoned due to a poor foundation. The second, built in 1859 was destroyed during the Civil War. The current lighthouse was built in 1872 and is 156 feet tall. Currently the public is not allowed to climb it.
After your visit, it’s time to move on to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with a climb up the 257 steps to the top if you are adventurous. This area has always needed a lighthouse because of the shoals in the area. There are two ocean currents in this area, the cold Labrador and the warm Gulf Stream. And when these waters collide, they cause ever changing sandbars which means lots of shipwrecks.
The funds were given in 1793 but the structure at Hatteras wasn’t finished until 1802. Over the years they kept making modifications, especially when they realized the light wasn’t strong enough to warn ships of the dangers of “the Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The 208 foot brick lighthouse was finally moved to its present location in 1999.
Next we take a ferry to Ocracoke Island. Native Americans have lived on this island for a long time and European presence started in 1719. This island has a lot of history, including pirates, and recently many artifacts have been found from its past. The original lighthouse was built in 1794 adjacent to the island but was obsolete in thirty years since the main channel changed and
then lightening destroyed the structure.
In 1823 a new lighthouse was built on the island and is 75 feet tall. The walls are solid brick 12 feet thick. There is an octagonal lantern at the top which houses the light beacon. This is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the nation.
If you have time you could also journey to Kill Devil Hills to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. There is a Park Ranger program and Visitor Center that exhibits information on the brothers background and the development of the gliders as well as the 1903 Flyer.
Just west of the camp buildings is a large granite boulder commemorating the take-off point. And you can climb Big Kill Devil Hill for a breathtaking view of the area from the sound to the sea. On top of the hill stands a 60 foot Pylon, the site where Wilbur and Orville conducted their glider experiments.
From sea to shining sea there are so many incredible sights to explore in our country. Whether you live on the East Coast, the West Coast or points in between now is the right time to visit these sights.