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Bodie Island Lighthouse

First thing, it is pronounced BODY Island...and locals will correct you, politely of course because that is how we are, if you say it incorrectly.  You can't miss this black and white striped lighthouse when you are on your way to Hatteras Island. This is the the third lighthouse that has stood in this vicinity and was built in 1872. Renovations took place from August of 2009 to March of 2013 and now you can climb it. Earlier lighthouses stood south of Oregon Inlet on Pea Island. They are now  under water. One, the first lighthouse in this location, was built in 1847 but had to be abandoned in 1859 due to a poor foundation.   The next one was built in 1859 but was destroyed during the Civil War, not by the Yankees but by the retreating Confederate troops who destroyed it so that the Union soldiers could not use it as an observation post. 

This current lighthouse was completed in 1872 and in 1932 the light was upgraded to an electric lamp. They used oil fueled generators for this. The Bodie Island Lighthouse was manned until 1940 and when it was fully automated in 1953 the power was switched from the commercial electric grid. (See, isn't this all interesting?)

The name (remember, it is BODY) comes from the original name of this area which was Bodies Island after the name of the family who owned the island (and who spelled their name Body).  So no, the name does not come from the bodies of dead sailors washed ashore. 

Historic light station information – North Carolina

Bodie Island Lighthouse: (from Wikipedia)

  • 1847 – The contractor on the first project was Mr. Francis Gibbons, of Baltimore, who would later become a prominent lighthouse builder on the West Coast. Cost was $5,000 but problems with location and design of the tower caused a ten year delay in construction. The tower was highly unstable and soon after it was completed, it began to lean toward the sea.
  • 1859 – The Bodie Island Lighthouse had deteriorated and the Lighthouse Board secured a $25,000 appropriation from Congress to erect a new tower. This new tower was 80 ft (24 m). and its lantern was a third-order Fresnel lens.
  • 1861 – In the fall of 1861, Confederate troops stacked explosives inside the tower and blew it apart.
  • 1871 – A third lighthouse was completed in 1871 partially with material left over from construction of a new tower at Cape Hatteras. The tower was 156 ft (48 m). with a first order Fresnel lens that made its light visible for 18 nautical miles (33 km). The Bodie tower is painted with white and black horizontal bands.  
    United States Coast Guard

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is open for guided climbs. There are over 200 steps from the ground to the top so it is a strenuous climb, equal to climbing a 1--story building. There is a handrail on one side and the stairway is narrow. It is one way traffic and there are nine landings. No AC, No Elevator. When can you climb?  From the third Friday in April to Columbus Day in October. Guided climbs run from 9 am to 5:45 pm daily and last about 45 minutes. Each climb is limited to 22 people. 


Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (62 or older), children 11 years of age and under, and the disabled. Tour tickets may be purchased on site on the day of the tour or may be reserved in advance.


Day of Tour Tickets

50% of all tours for each day will be sold on site. Day of tour tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can only be purchased in-person at the site the day of the tour. Day of tour tickets will be available from 8:30 am to 5:45 pm starting the third Friday in April.

Reserved Tickets
50% of all tours for each day will be sold in advance. Reservations for a tour can only be made between one to seven days in advance of the tour date by calling 252-475-9417. The reservation office is open from 11 am to 4 pm, seven days a week. Reservations cannot be made the same day as the tour date.

Found this review on TripAdvisor®:  "Most Beautiful Lighthouse I've Ever Seen!"

"In the past, I'd seen two lighthouses from a ferry (Oak Island, NC; Morris Island, SC), visited two (Turkey Point, DE; Cape Henry, VA); and toured two (Tybee Island, GA; Cape Henry, VA). On this particular visit, we visited Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It has a rich history, but its appearance was a bit underwhelming. We stopped at Bodie Island on our way back to the mainland, and this lighthouse was simply breathtaking! According to the National Park Service Ranger, this lighthouse was offering tours for only its second season, and much restoration work had gone into it. The care that went into restoring this lighthouse was evident! Everything looked well-kept and true to its period. There is a small gift shop on site, but there isn't any dining. Not to worry--there are plenty of local restaurants on the barrier islands if you do get hungry. There are restrooms available as well. For a small fee, you can take a guided tour of the lighthouse that includes the opportunity to step out on the widow's walk (balcony) provided by the NPS. Like all lighthouse tours, I would not recommend this tour for anyone who's health, physical ability, or fear of heights would preclude them from participating, but of course, visiting the park itself is still highly recommended! It seems as though Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is North Carolina's most iconic lighthouse, but Bodie just may be North Carolina's most beautiful!" Visited May 2014