Construction of Bodie Island Lighthouse began in the summer of 1847. The approval of the building of a lighthouse occurred in 1837, but due to many obstacles, such as purchasing the land and disagreements over location caused a ten year delay.
Once construction started on the lighthouse, the problems continued. The original design of Bodie Island Lighthouse was only 54 feet high, which was not tall enough to be seen by the sailors. The lighthouse also did not have a stable foundation, and after the lighthouse was constructed, it began tilting towards the sea.
In 1859, the original structure was so badly deteriorated that a new lighthouse was constructed. The new lighthouse was built with a new foundation and stood 80 feet tall. The tower would operate until 1861, when it was destroyed by Confederate troops who filled the lighthouse with explosives.
A third structure was built on Bodie Island in 1872. This particular structure stood 156 feet tall and could be seen 19 miles out to sea. Once the lighthouse light started being used, another problem started. Geese were attracted to the light and began crashing into and damaging the lens. To correct the problem, the lighthouse was painted black and white.
The lighthouse was automated in 1931. A 1000 watt bulb is used to light the lighthouse. The Bodie Island Lighthouse continues to be used by sailors as a navigation tool. A white light flashes every 30 seconds.
Directions to Bodie Lighthouse:
From Kitty Hawk, take NC 158 South to NC 12 South to the Cape Hattaras National Seashore. About 10 miles south, you will see a tall lighthouse on the right. A sign marks the entrance to the lighthouse.
Bodie Lighthouse Facts:
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
- There are 214 steps to the lantern room.
- The flash characteristically remains 2.5 seconds on, 2.5 off, 2.5 on, and 22.5 seconds off, two cycles per minute.
- Bodie Island originally was spelled "Body" or "Body's" Island.
- Bodie Island's Principal Keeper Vernon Gaskill, Sr. and Assistant Keeper Julian Austin, Sr. were the last two civilian era keepers of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. Like other coastal lights, it became a lookout tower for the Navy during WWII.
Route 1, Box 675
Manteo, NC 27954