Ocracoke Lighthouse was built by Noah Porter in 1823 after the Shell Castle Island lighthouse was destroyed by lightning in 1818. Another reason that the lighthouse was built on Ocracoke Island was the shifting of sand away from Shell Castle Island and into Ocracoke Inlet. The lighthouse has stayed continuously lit except for a period of time when Confederate soldiers stole the lens so the Union Navy could not use it to block the southern coast.
Ocracoke Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina. It is also the second oldest continuously operating light on the East Coast. Ocracoke stands 65 feet tall, and it reaches 75 feet tall to the focal point of the center of the lens. One side of the lighthouse is more sloped than the other, and the lantern room that was built off-center. Nobody knows why it was built that way.
There are no roads to Ocracoke Light Station. The only way you can see it is by boat or ferry. The state runs a ferry that you can drive your car onto. The lighthouse is open year round.
Directions to Ocracoke Lighthouse:
From the southern tip of Hatteras Island, take the car/passenger state operated ferry to Ocracoke Island. Once you get off the ferry, drive about 12 miles south to the village on NC 12. Make a left onto Lighthouse Road, and continue driving until you see a small parking lot in front of the lighthouse.
Ocracoke Lighthouse Facts:
North Carolina Department of Transportation, Ferry Division
- Diagonal astragals, an old lighthouse architectural style, form the distinguishing patterns of its windows.
- The 1823 Ocracoke tower is the oldest operating lighthouse on NC coast. (Old Baldy is five years older but no longer an active aid to navigation).
- An assistant keeper's position was established and a second story was added to the keeper's quarters in 1897.
- The tower is 65 feet tall, and it is 75 feet to the focal plane at the center of the lens.
- It has a fixed white light from a fourth order Fresnel lens.
113 Arendell Street
Morehead City, NC 28557