Our last stop in the Outer Banks was to the Currituck Lighthouse. We drove through Duck, NC into Corolla Village.
This red-brick lighthouse towers above the northern Outer Banks landscape and visitors can climb the winding staircase, 214 steps in all, to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Outer Banks.
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is known as a first order lighthouse, which means it has the largest of seven Fresnel lens sizes. With a 20-second flash cycle (on for 3 seconds, off for 17 seconds), the light can be seen for 18 nautical miles. The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners but also to help identify their locations. Like the other lighthouses on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, this one still serves as an aid to navigation. The beacon comes on automatically every evening at dusk and ceases at dawn.
To distinguish the Currituck Beach Lighthouse from other regional lighthouses, its exterior was left unpainted and gives today’s visitor a sense of the multitude of bricks used to form the structure. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse was the last major brick lighthouse built on the Outer Banks.
Number of steps: 214
Height to focal plane of lens: 158 feet
Height to top of roof: 162 feet
Number of bricks: approximately one million
Thickness of wall at base: 5 feet 8 inches
Thickness of wall at parapet: 3 feet
Position: 34 miles south of the Cape Henry Lighthouse (VA), 32 1/2 miles north-northwest of Bodie Island Lighthouse Coast Survey
Chart: 36° 22’36″ N latitude, 75° 49’51″ W longitude.
Rise and Shine! The sun is out and the weather couldn’t be more beautiful. Today we continue our exploration of the Outer Banks. The lighthouse wasn’t open just yet so we checked out of the motel and headed south to the town of Hatteras. It’s the furthest point you can drive, from here you take a ferry over to Ocracoke. There is a lighthouse here and I was sad that we were going to miss it. The boys and I stopped at a café, grabbed a few lattes, a smoothie, a few breakfast pastries and headed back to visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Here’s a little more history about the lighthouses from the OBX. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast. Offshore of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada. This current forces southbound ships into a dangerous twelve-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals. Hundreds and possibly thousands of shipwrecks in this area have given it the reputation as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. The lighthouse is 210 foot height makes it the tallest brick lighthouse structure in the United States and 29th in the world. The National Park Service acquired ownership of the lighthouse when it was abandoned in 1935. In 1950, when the structure was again found safe for use, new lighting equipment was installed. Now the Coast Guard owns and operates the navigational equipment, while the National Park Service maintains the tower as a historic structure. 1,250,000 bricks were used in construction of the lighthouse and it is 248 steps to the top.
In 1999, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse had to be moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,870 feet (870 m) inland. Due to erosion of the shore, the lighthouse was just 120 feet from the ocean’s edge and was in imminent danger. The Cape Hatteras Light House Station Relocation Project became known as “The Move of the Millennium.” It is the tallest masonry structure ever moved (200 feet tall and weighing 5,000 tons). The boys and I walked out to the original location, it was very close to the water and the Park Ranger told us that the lighthouse would not have survived Hurricane Sandy.
After we left South Carolina, the boys and I headed eight hours north and east over to the Outer Banks. This is one place that I always wanted to go see and since the boys and I are on a lighthouse mission, this just seemed like the best next stop. By the time we arrived it was later in the afternoon and the sky was overcast and windy. This first lighthouse that we came to was the Bodie Lighthouse. This current lighthouse is the third that has stood in this vicinity of Bodie Island on the Outer Banks in North Carolina and was built in 1872. It stands 156 feet (48 m) tall and is located on the Roanoke Sound side of the first island that is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. While some people (including North Carolinians not from the Outer Banks) pronounce the name with a long “o” sound, it is traditionally pronounced as body. This is derived from the original name of the area, which was “Bodies Island”, after the Body family from whom the land was purchased. Folklore would have you believe it is due to the number of dead sailors washed ashore from this portion of the Atlantic Ocean, which is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. An impressive array of ships have been sunk due to storms, shoals, and German U-boats in World War II.
Our next stop was the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This lighthouse is right next to our motel, so we thought we would swing by and check it out. Due to lightening in the area we were not allowed up into the lighthouse, so we wandered down to the beach and the boys ran off some of their energy from the long car ride.
We checked into the motel, the boys went for a swim, we grabbed a pizza for dinner at a local arcade, and called it a day.
The day has finally arrived!!! The car is packed, the kids and Molly are in, and at 8:45 we pulled out of the driveway. Today is the first day of our 2013 summer vacation and I can’t wait for all of our fun adventures over the next 7 weeks!
Originally, we had planned on starting this trip in North Carolina visiting with Aunt Barbara, but after her plans changed I gave Davy the option of still going to the mountains or heading somewhere new, and he chose somewhere new. So, to break up the long distance of this trip I decided that our first stop would be to take the boys to Charleston, SC.
I found a little Inn on a creek 5 miles outside of Charleston, the price was cheap and the dog was welcome, so that’s where we are staying.
For dinner I thought that it would be fun to eat on the water. There are so many great places to eat here, but this one was close and right off of Folly Rd, so we stopped at The Crab House….Yum! Davy is now officially a fan of crab legs, although he says that I have to crack the legs for him… Crazy kid! 🙂
Next stop, Folly beach. Davy and I decided earlier in the week that since we were going to be driving up and down the East Coast, that we would be on the look out for lighthouses. Folly has one on the northeast end of the beach called Morris Island Lighthouse. This lighthouse is registered as one of the Nation’s most historic sites. The first ray of light was cast on October 1, 1876 and it is the third lighthouse to occupy this site. This lighthouse was South Carolina’s only first order lighthouse and is now their most beloved symbol of their maritime past. After 7.5 hours in the car, a trip to the beach to see the lighthouse was the perfect ending to our first day.
Filed under Beach, Vacations