OAK ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE
Oak Island Lighthouse
Caswell Beach, NC
Latitude: 33° 53' 34.4" N
Longitude: 78° 02' 06.0" W
Built in 1958 by the United States Coast Guard, the Oak Island Light Station is unique in that it was designed using the most advanced construction techniques of the 20th century and was one of the last light stations to be built in the United States. With its structurally reinforced eight-inch-thick concrete walls, Oak Island does not have the tapered look of most lighthouse towers.
The plumb vertical walls rise 155 feet with a focal plane of 169 feet above sea level. When built, colors were added to the concrete in order to save on future maintenance costs so that it will never have to be painted. The tri-colored day mark consists of black, white, and grey.
Built on Caswell Island, the lighthouse was placed in its strategic site to aid shipping into and out of the Cape Fear River from the Atlantic Ocean and to warn of the dangers of Frying Pan Shoals. With its four twenty-four-inch parabolic mirrors and four 1000-watt bulbs, the Oak Island beacon was once considered one of the most powerful in the United States with a range of sixteen miles.
Oak Island Lighthouse was transferred from the U. S. Coast Guard to the town of Caswell Beach on October 18, 2004. The light remains an active aid to navigation. The OBLHS is a founding member of The Friends of Oak Island Lighthouse.
Oak Island Lighthouse is owned by the Town of Caswell Beach with ongoing cooperative efforts with the Friends of Oak Island Lighthouse (FOIL). General public tours to the second level only (just twelve steps up – NOT to the top) for anyone seven years of age or older are available ONLY during the summer months (Memorial Day through Labor Day). Second level tours are only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Volunteers conduct tours to the top year-round with at least two weeks’ notice. A request to climb can be made at their web site. Children must be nine years old to climb. The lighthouse grounds are open year-round with limited 30 minute parking provided at the base of the tower from sunrise until sunset. Visit the Friends of the Oak Island Lighthouse website for more information or to request a special tour.
The tower is located adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Station Oak Island at 300 Caswell Beach Road, and has a small parking lot at its base. Grounds are open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Tours of the adjacent Coast Guard station are available from April until October each Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.