19 Facts About Cape Lookout Lighthouse


Cape Lookout Lighthouse in North Carolina offers much more than a beautiful photo op.

The surrounding Cape Lookout National Seashore is a treasure trove of natural wonders and historical significance. Visitors can explore the pristine beaches, hike through the lush maritime forests, and spot a wide variety of wildlife, including wild horses, sea turtles, and seabirds. And for history buffs, the lighthouse and surrounding structures offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the brave men and women who have manned the lighthouse and protected the coast for generations.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Overall, visiting Cape Lookout Lighthouse is an unforgettable experience that offers something for everyone. Here are 19 interesting facts about this historic lighthouse that every traveler should know:

  1. Cape Lookout Lighthouse is on the Cape Lookout National Seashore, part of the National Park Service.
  2. Rising 163 feet above the dunes, the black-and-white striped tower offers a striking contrast against the blue skies and crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Bodie Island Lighthouse to the north also adorns the black and white stripes in a different pattern.
  3. The tower has 207 steps to the top, and visitors can climb to the top to enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding landscape.
  4. The first lighthouse on Cape Lookout was built in 1812 but was destroyed during the Civil War.
  5. The current lighthouse was built in 1859 and has been continuously operated.
  6. The lighthouse uses a third-order Fresnel lens to project a beam of light that can be seen up to 19 miles away.
  7. The light in the lighthouse flashes every 15 seconds, and the color of the light changes depending on the direction it is facing.
  8. The lighthouse is located on the southern tip of Shackleford Banks, a barrier island home to wild horses.
  9. The island is only accessible by boat or ferry, and visitors must hike or take a shuttle to reach the lighthouse.
  10. The lighthouse is open to visitors from mid-May to mid-September, and admission is charged for those who wish to climb to the top.
  11. Visitors can also explore the lighthouse keeper's quarters, restored to their original 19th-century appearance.
  12. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
  13. In 2013, the lighthouse underwent a major restoration, including repairs to the brickwork, exterior painting, and lens replacement.
  14. The lighthouse is a popular spot for photographers and has been featured in numerous films, TV shows, and commercials.
  15. Cape Lookout Lighthouse is also a popular spot for birdwatching, with over 240 species of birds recorded on the island.
  16. The lighthouse has a rich maritime history, with many shipwrecks and naval battles occurring in the surrounding waters.
  17. The lighthouse has been the subject of numerous legends and ghost stories, with some claiming that the ghost of a former lighthouse keeper haunts the tower.
  18. The lighthouse has also played a role in the history of aviation, with pilots using it as a navigational aid during World War II.
  19. Visitors to Cape Lookout Lighthouse should be aware of the area's hot and humid climate and the presence of biting insects like mosquitoes and ticks.

That's our list of facts!

Did we leave any points that you are privy to off this list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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1 comment

  • I’ve heard from locals that when the lighthouses were orginally painted that the painter made a mistake an painted the diamond design on cape Lookout lighthouse,, when that diamond design should have been painted on cape hatteras, which is actually on diamond shoals. Is this true??


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