17 Facts About Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie Island Lighthouse Outer Banks NC Photo Nags Head

This post includes pictures of this beautiful landmark as well as some fun facts any lighthouse fanatic would be enthusiastic to learn! Be sure to add Bodie Island Lighthouse to your Outer Banks bucket list, you won’t be disappointed by its beauty.

1) Bodie Island Lighthouse has been rebuilt twice, the current structure is the third iteration. The first two Bodie Island Lighthouses were located south of Nags Head on Pea Island. The second tower performed only less effectively than its not-so-stable predecessor. Fearing that Union troops would use Bodie Island Lighthouse to gain the upper hand during the Civil War, Confederate troops blew up the second Bodie Island Light in 1861.

2) Bodie Island Lighthouse is located 43 miles (about a 55-minute drive) north of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse which is the tallest all-brick lighthouse in the United States.

3) Construction on the current lighthouse was completed in 1872 at a cost of $140,000 which is equivalent to about $3.2 million dollars today.

4) First lighthouse keeper was paid an annual salary of $400 which was reasonable at the time. In 1932 the light was electrified eliminating the need for on-site keepers.

5) Visitors who want to enjoy the view at the top of the lighthouse have to hike their way up 200+ stairs. Of course the trip down the lighthouse is much easier than the trek up!

6) The ocean waters off the coast of the Outer Banks are often referred to as the “Graveyard in the Atlantic” as there have been more than 600+ shipwrecks. Legend has it the name Bodie Island was developed because of all of the bodies that would wash ashore as a result of the shipwrecks.

7) In 1953 it became the responsibility of the National Park Service (NPS) to maintain and operate this Outer Banks landmark. The majority of NPS staff are seasonal employees from various parts of the United States. On the Outer Banks, the NPS also maintains and operates Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Wright Brother’s National Memorial, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

8) On-site parking is free and there is plenty of space for cars, trucks, and RVs.

9) Materials used to construct Bodie Island Lighthouse include brick, granite, stone, cast iron, and wood.

10) Currituck Beach Lighthouse, located 43 miles (about a 1 hour and 10-minute drive) to the north in Corolla, was built using a similar blueprint. One major difference between the two is that Currituck Beach Lighthouse is unpainted.

11) Bodie Island Lighthouse towers some 156 feet from the ground and the height of each stripe on the exterior is 22 feet.

12) To power the beacon, a first-order Fresnel lens is currently in use along with a 1,000-watt lightbulb activated by a photocell.

13) It cost just $150.00 in 1846 for the land in which the first Bodie Island Lighthouse was built. That's equivalent to only about $5,400 in today's money, what a steal!

14) In 1999, Hurricane Dennis damaged the structure enough that it had to be closed for repairs. Bodie Island Lighthouse reopened in 2003 after being restored by volunteers from many parts of the state.

15) Visitors have the opportunity to climb Bodie Island Lighthouse from April to October. Climbing tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors (62 or older), children 13 years of age and younger. There is usually a National Park Service ranger at the top and bottom of the structure that provides help if necessary. There is no advance sale for regular, unguided climbs. The last climb to the top takes place around 4:00 PM.

16) The lighthouse's beam can be spotted by sailors 20 miles offshore.

17) There are five different levels inside the lighthouse with an observation deck at its peak.

What's your favorite thing about Bodie Island Lighthouse? Let us know in the comments section below! After you leave a note, we invite you to visit one of these other articles listed below.

1 comment

  • I have always been memorized by the Lighthouse from the first time I visited and really have no answer why, do know I can sit and look at it for hours. Thank you so much to the people that restored so we can enjoy the beauty and history. It seems like a peaceful place, that might be my answer to why!

    Jeannette Newbern

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