North Carolina to Become Lighthouse Climbers’ Mecca
Six towers will be open to the public by 2011
by Cheryl Shelton-Roberts
On October 16, 2009, in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.,
the Outer Banks Scenic Byway was named to the distinctive
and diverse collection of America’s byways. The nationally
designated highway traverses one of the nation’s and North Carolina’s
great coastal landscapes through Dare, Hyde, and Carteret Counties.
The timing is perfectly in synch with ongoing restoration projects at
Bodie Island, Cape Lookout, and Ocracoke Lighthouses. Within two
years, the maritime trail from Currituck Beach Lighthouse all the way
to Old Baldy and Oak Island will offer up six climbable towers and
an assortment of other sound, river, and harbor lights to visit. Mixed
into this trail of historic sites are life-saving stations, bird-watching
areas, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, and several maritime
The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway’s nomination emphasizes the
unique maritime culture shared by 21 coastal villages that punctuate
the byway route. That culture, says the nomination, is thoroughly
linked to the byway’s natural environment of barrier islands, capes
and shallow sounds as well as nationally significant historic places.
Add the beautiful southern areas that include Oak Island and Old
Baldy Lighthouses, and anyone seeking a memorable coastal tour will
be in heaven.
Stimulus monies coming out of Washington, D.C., are helping
at Bodie Island, Ocracoke, and Cape Lookout Lighthouses. It is
reminiscent of make-work projects during the Great Depression that
brought improvements to roadways and coastal areas that proved a
boon for tourism; indeed, it created the great Blue Ridge Parkway
and its classic rock walls and overpasses. Since a large part of North
Carolina’s economy is based on tourism, stimulus monies couldn’t
have come at a better time. Bodie Island Lighthouse has been literally
falling to pieces for decades. Ocracoke Lighthouse has needed stairs
repairs for as long while the interior brick was deteriorating back into
the original clay form. Cape Lookout’s 150-year-old stairs are in dire
need of restoration. It alone commands one of the most beautiful
coastal wilderness areas in the world. Visitors will soon enjoy the view
from the top, arguably one of life’s greatest experiences.
Find out more information on the restoration of NC Lighthouses on our NEWS page.
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