10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Oak Island Lighthouse

If you are a person who appreciates historical landmarks, then you probably admire the many beautiful and well-placed lighthouses around the country. One lighthouse that has historical significance although it is not as old as many of the other lighthouse of prominence is the Oak Island Lighthouse. When it comes to sites to visit when in the state of North Carolina, the Oak Island Lighthouse is one of the top destinations. There is something mystic about lighthouses if you ask me. A structure that was primarily designed to provide a point of reference for ships approaching the shoreline, these rustic structures develop stories that contribute to unique personalities that ultimately become a part of folklore.

This particular lighthouse may not be hundreds of years old, but it still has history and there are a lot of things that you don’t know. Following are 10 things you didn’t know about the Oak Island Lighthouse.

1. It Was Built at a Total Cost of $110,000

While you probably could not build a lasting structure of that magnitude for anywhere close to $100,000, that amount was significant in 1958 when the lighthouse was erected. What should be considered is the fact that the initial $100,000 dollars invested in the creation of this masterpiece was only the beginning, there an ongoing cost for maintaining the structure that has to be met every year.

2. The Lights On this Tower Are at 169 Feet Above Sea level

The lights that alert ships of the pending shoreline are at 169 feet above the sea level. One misconception that people have when viewing this fact is that the tower is 169 feet tall, but the truth is that the tower itself is only 153 feet tall. The level of the lights also includes the slight rise of the land on which the tower is built. All nautical charts, not the land rise as well.

3. The Upkeep of the Lighthouse is Maintained by a Private Organization

The lighthouse is the property of the township of Caswell Beach; however, maintenance, governance, and tour arrangements are handled by a private 501 c (3) organization by the name of Friends of Oak Island Lighthouse. The town created this organization to offset the cost of maintaining the organization. The town has used this organization to raise money for recent repairs and the ongoing maintenance.

4. The Aluminum Lantern is 11 Feet Tall

When you think of a lantern, it is hard to envision one that is 11 feet tall, but when you consider the distance from which a ship must be able to see the lights on this toward, those lanterns have to be significantly large. The lantern structure is so huge that it had to be installed by Marine helicopters.

5. It Does Not Have the Traditional Spiral Staircase

One of the notable components of most lighthouse structures is the spiral staircase that allows humans to ascend to the top of the tower. This lighthouse does not have a spiral case. Instead, humans must climb to the top uses a series of ships ladders that are positioned to go from the base of the tower to the lantern gallery. There are a total of 131 steps to reach the level of the lantern gallery.

6. Not All of the Tower is Painted

There is a common misconception that the multicolored structure was painted to purpose proport the colors that people see when they look at the tower. The truth is that the first forty feet of the tower that appears gray has not been painted. That shade of gray is the natural color for Portland cement, which is what was used to build that section.

7. The Beacon Characteristics Are Unique

The flashing pattern of the light that sits on top of the tower is four one-second flashes disbursed over 10 seconds. While it may appear that this light beacon is being emanated from one lantern, it is actually the result of eight aero beacon lighting fixtures working in unison. When the tower was first erected the lighting fixture was made up of carbon-arc mercury lamps.

8. There Is An Age Limit to Climb the Tower

The organization that governs the tours of the tower allows tourist to climb the tower year-round; however, there is one restriction. You must be at least nine-years-old to climb the toward. Additionally, reservations to climb the toward must be made two weeks in advance. There are scheduled tours that reservationists will be added to as they call in.

9. The Coast Guard Inspects All Maintenance and Upkeep

While the tower is owned by Caswell Beach, the importance and role of the tower require that the United States Coast Guard oversee and approve all maintenance of the tower. With the tower provided the necessary visual to ensure that ships don’t run aground, it is paramount that it remains in constant working order.

10. The Tower Sits Adjacent to The Coast Guard Station

As it turns out, the Coast Guard does not have to travel far to inspect the dependability and functionality of the tower, as the Coast Guard station sits directly adjacent to the lighthouse. The property on which both, the station and the lighthouse sit are deeded to Caswell Beach but operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.


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