Bodie Island


Bodie Island lighthouse, Outer Banks, NC

Located just ten miles from the site of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the current Bodie Island lighthouse was constructed in 1872, with the keeper’s quarters (pictured right) completed shortly afterward.

Starting in the 1830’s, the federal government sent Lieutenant Napoleon L. Coste to the Atlantic coast to pinpoint potential lighthouse destinations–a dire need for ships navigating the waters that became known as the “graveyard of the Atlantic.”

Construction of the original lighthouse started off poorly, with its project manager ordering an unsupported brick foundation. After only two years, the 54 foot tall lighthouse began to lean and was soon abandoned.

According to the National Park Service, “The second lighthouse fared little better than its wobbly predecessor. Though funded, contracted, and completed in prompt fashion at a nearby site in 1859, it soon succumbed to an unforeseen danger – the Civil War. Fearing that the 80-foot tower would be used by Union forces, retreating Confederate troops blew it up in 1861.”

Finally, about a decade after, it was decided to build a third lighthouse for Bodie Island. After solving the problems of geese smashing into the lighthouse and adding a lightning rod for storms, the lighthouse became electrified in 1932, ceasing the need for lighthouse keepers, who had lived mostly isolated on the undeveloped island until then.

The now renovated, current Bodie Island lighthouse continues to be an important part of North Carolina history and essential to a region where Lt Coste once said, “more vessels are lost there than on any other part of our coast.”