More Lighthouses: Bodie and Hatteras

After we climbed Currituck Lighthouse, it became our mission to climb as many others as we could. So over the next week, we huffed and puffed our way up two others.

About 40 miles south of Currituck is the Bodie Island Lighthouse.  The first Bodie lighthouse was built in 1847. Construction issues — like no support for the foundation — caused it to be abandoned and sacrificed to the waters. A second iteration, built in 1858, was destroyed by the Confederates during the Civil War. The current structure, built in 1872, is the third.

A sign at Bodie said, “No climbers over 260 lbs.”

Why? asked Mr. HT.

The ranger’s response: they’re worried about collapsing.

The climber collapsing?

No, the stairs collapsing. They’re are old and delicate and can only be trusted to support 260 pounds.

It’s 214 steps to the top and the view isn’t that impressive.  They’re working on the roads near the lighthouse, so heavy equipment dominates the landscape.

Along with the weight requirement, Bodie was the only lighthouse that didn’t allow more than one person on a flight of stairs at a time. — logical, since that could take the stair over the 260 weight limit. There were landings about every 20 steps and a climber had to ensure that the person before him/her was on the next landing before s/he started up. And we had to wait for anyone descending to clear — they had right-of-way. Bodie is lucky that it wasn’t filled with boisterous schoolchildren running and pushing their way up the stairs.

Which brings us to the next lighthouse ….

Forty miles south of Bodie is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  With it’s black and white candy cane stripes, it’s the most picturesque of the Outer Bank lighthouses. At least, it’s the one that appears the most in art work and postcards. It’s also the tallest of the three Outer Banks lighthouses, with 257 steps. As a climber, the step difference among the three lighthouses didn’t make any difference. After 200, it’s really all a wash.

Construction of the first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was completed in 1803. During the Civil War, its Fresnel lens (retrofitted in 1853) was taken by the Confederates to avoid Federal ships benefiting from the lighthouse. I’d think that Confederate ships also benefited from the lighthouse, so I’m not sure where they were going with that logic.  But in any case, it was taken.  The most popular guess is that it was hidden at a plantation inland but, as far as the public knows, 140 years go by with no sign of the lens. Eventually, a North Carolina film-maker would go searching for the lens and, in 2001, discover that it had been put back on the lighthouse (with no fanfare) in 1870. It was removed when the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1936 and what’s left of it is on display at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

Hatteras seems to be the lighthouse of choice for school trips — there were zillions of children there. “No running!” was the sound tract of our lighthouse climb. I’m jealous that we were never taken to  anywhere near as cool on school trips when I was a child.

We’re going on a Wisconsin/Michigan road trip in September, so we’ll continue our climbing at some Great Lakes lighthouses.

On our drive to Hatteras, we stopped at Duck Donuts. They have a menu of choices and customize the donuts after you order them.

They’re all cake doughnuts and I’m a raised doughnut person, but I make an exception for Duck Donuts.


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5 Responses to More Lighthouses: Bodie and Hatteras

  1. Jo Shafer says:

    Fantastic from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse — Wow! My favorite picture is your lead showing the wood walk over the marsh to the lighthouse, with the keeper’s residence beyond. A peaceful scene.

  2. museummutt says:

    Sounds like a good vacation if you want to get in sh

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