The striking black and white striped Bodie Island lighthouse provides one of the most distinctive and picturesque sceneries on the Outer Banks. Planning a visit to one of our OBX vacation rentals? Why not schedule a visit to the newly renovated Bodie Island Lighthouse? Re-opening this month, the tower is located on Bodie Island, just south of Nags Head. The 165 foot lighthouse that is standing today is actually the third attempt to illuminate the stretch of coastline between Currituck Beach and Cape Hatteras.
The planning and construction of the first Bodie Island lighthouse began in 1838 with the final completion occurring years later in 1847. The budget of the lighthouse was foreseen by the Fifth Auditor of the Treasury who was more concerned with saving money than with building a sound structure. Thus, the 54 foot tower was fraught with problems from the very beginning. The unsupported foundation developed cracks and leaks which caused the lighthouse to gradually sink and lean to one side. Because of its many issues, the first Bodie lighthouse was leveled after only 11 years. The second tower, which was designed by the Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1859, seemed to have a much more promising future. Unfortunately, it met an untimely and unfortunate end during the Civil War when the confederates succeeding in destroying the majestic 80 foot tower.
The construction of the third and final Bodie Island Lighthouse began in July 1871 and was completed the following year. Its existence was relatively peaceful for many quiet years until the passing of time had an effect on the structural integrity of the lighthouse. This became abundantly clear in 2004 when two cast-iron chunks fell from the gallery atop the tower, and it was closed to visitors because of safety hazards. When funding for the restoration of the lighthouse was removed from the federal budget, hopes for a restoration of the stately lighthouse began to fade.
After years of postponement and diligent fund raising, work began briefly in January of 2010 only to be cut short once again in August 2010. Further issues were found during the renovation process and authorities still lacked the funds necessary to bring the lighthouse back to life. As lighthouse supporters searched for more funds, the arrival of Hurricane Irene in 2011 caused more damage to the structure.
Thankfully, the story of the Bodie Island Lighthouse has a happy ending. It’s exciting to announce that visitors to our OBX vacation rentals in the upcoming seasons can finally plan a tour of this beautiful tower. In previous months, restoration work has been ongoing and the results are scheduled to be unveiled soon in April of 2013. Visitors and residents of the Outer Banks will now be allowed to climb its 214 steps to embrace scenic views of our area. Workers will have replaced windows in need of repair and installed a system to eliminate airborne particles that could pose health issues. They have also designed and created metal patterns for parts in need of replacement, and placed interior scaffolding to allow them to reach parts requiring interior paint. Always scenic, the Bodie Island Lighthouse is now in its prime once again. For those of our guests who will be staying in one of our OBX vacation rentals this spring and summer, why not plan a trip to the Bodie Island Lighthouse to learn more about the fascinating history of this magnificent sentinel?