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Currituck Beach Lighthouse

The historic Currituck Beach Lighthouse is located between Cape Henry Light and Bodie Island along the Outer Banks in Corolla, North Carolina.

Things To Do

1
Climb the Lighthouse Climb the 220 steps up the original spiral stairway to the top of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse and see panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, Currituck Sound, and the northern Outer Banks.
2
Visit Corolla Visit the historic town of Corolla which surrounds the lighthouse.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse

History

When the Currituck Beach Lighthouse was completed, it fulfilled a dire need to light 40 miles of dark coastline. as southbound ships sailing closer to shore to avoid the Gulf Stream were especially in danger because of the shallow waters. Construction began on the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in 1873 and was completed on December 1, 1875. The last major brick lighthouse built along the Outer Banks, it was outfitted with a first-order Fresnel lens and lit with a Funck’s hydraulic float lamp fueled with lard oil. A keeper’s house was completed in 1876.

The lighthouse was converted to run on mineral oil in 1884. By 1913, an incandescent oil vapor lamp was used, with kerosene vaporized and forced into the burner via a hand pump attached to a storage tank. To make the light appear to flash, a system of weights suspended from a line powered a clockwork mechanism beneath the lantern; it required the keeper to crank the weights up by hand every 2½ hours.

In 1920, a circa 1870s dwelling was moved from the Long Point Lighthouse to Currituck Beach Light as it was a smaller keeper’s house.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse was completely automated in 1939 with the advent of electricity. Later, the lighthouse had computerized devices installed which turned the light on automatically at dusk and off at dawn. Four 1,000 watt bulbs were installed in the light room, however, only one flashed at night. The other three served as backup replacements that could start if one of the other bulbs went out.

In 2001, the Coast Guard determined the Currituck Beach Lighthouse to be excess. It was among the first lighthouse to be excesses after the passage of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA). The Historical Services Administration deeded the keeper’s house and the land around the house to the state of North Carolina although the lighthouse remained the property of the federal government. The keeper’s house was vacant and deteriorated after years of abandonment. On October 17, 2003, the deed to the lighthouse was transferred to the Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc., through the auspices of the NHLPA.

Today, a small house, which was possibly a residence for a third keeper and his family, has been restored for use as a museum shop. The exterior of the larger keeper’s house has been restored with work continuing on the interior.

Resources

(252) 453-4939

1101 Corolla Village Road, Corolla, North Carolina

From US Route 158 at Kitty Hawk, follow NC Route 12 north for 20.5 miles. Turn left onto Corolla Village Road to the lighthouse parking area.

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