Bodie Island Lighthouse: A Beacon of History in Nags Head, South Carolina


The Bodie Island Lighthouse is an iconic landmark that has stood the test of time, witnessing a rich history of maritime travel, war, and natural disasters. Located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this lighthouse has been a beacon of light for sailors navigating the treacherous waters of the Atlantic for over a century and is reported to be a haunted lighthouse! In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of Bodie Island Lighthouse, from its construction to its restoration. We will learn about the life of its keepers, the engineering behind the tower, and the stories behind its haunting legends. So, buckle up and get ready to embark on a journey through time.

The history of Bodie Island Lighthouse dates back to the early 1800s when the US government recognized the need for a lighthouse to guide mariners through the dangerous shoals and inlets of the Outer Banks. In 1837, a temporary lighthouse was built on Bodie Island to aid ships navigating the coast. However, the temporary structure proved inadequate, and in 1847, the US Congress approved funds to build a permanent lighthouse. Construction began in 1857, and the tower was completed in 1872, standing 156 feet tall and equipped with a first-order Fresnel lens.

The Keepers of Bodie Island Lighthouse


Over the years, many keepers have tended to Bodie Island Lighthouse, ensuring that its light remained lit and guiding mariners to safety. The first keeper was a man named Samuel D. Salter, who served from 1872 to 1883. Salter was known for his bravery, having rescued many shipwrecked sailors from the treacherous waters off the coast. Other notable keepers include John Allen Midgett, who served from 1904 to 1921 and was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for his heroic efforts during a rescue mission in 1918. Additionally, the only female keeper to ever serve at Bodie Island Lighthouse was Fannie Salter, who served from 1909 to 1919.

The Haunting Legends of Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie Island Lighthouse has a rich history, and with that comes a few haunting legends. One of the most famous is the tale of the "Gray Man," a ghostly figure said to appear on the beach during storms to warn residents of impending danger. Legend has it that during a particularly fierce storm in 1824, the Gray Man appeared to warn locals of the impending danger. He has been spotted several times since, always appearing before major hurricanes or storms. Some say that he is the ghost of a sailor who died in a shipwreck off the coast. Another eerie legend surrounding Bodie Island Lighthouse is the story of the "Whistling Keeper." It is said that late at night, the sound of whistling can be heard coming from the tower, even though no one is inside. Some believe it is the ghost of a former keeper, still tending to the light even in death. While these legends may send shivers down your spine, they add to the rich history and intrigue of Bodie Island Lighthouse.

The Restoration of Bodie Island Lighthouse

In the late 20th century, Bodie Island Lighthouse was in a state of disrepair. The tower had suffered damage from hurricanes and erosion, and the lens had been removed. In 2000, the National Park Service began a restoration project to preserve the lighthouse for future generations. The restoration process included stabilizing the foundation, repairing the brickwork, and installing a replica of the original first-order Fresnel lens. Today, visitors can climb the 214 steps to the top of the tower and enjoy stunning views of the Outer Banks.

Is Bodie Island Lighthouse open to visitors?

A: Yes, Bodie Island Lighthouse is open to visitors from April to October. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower and enjoy breathtaking views of the coast.

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How tall is Bodie Island Lighthouse?

A: Bodie Island Lighthouse stands 156 feet tall.

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Are there any ghost tours at Bodie Island Lighthouse?

A: While there are no official ghost tours, visitors can learn about the haunting legends of the lighthouse during guided tours.

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In conclusion, Bodie Island Lighthouse is a symbol of North Carolina's rich maritime history. From its construction in the 1800s to its restoration in the 21st century, the lighthouse has stood the test of time, witnessing both tragedy and triumph. As visitors climb the stairs to the top of the tower, they are not only treated to breathtaking views of the coast but also transported back in time to an era of brave keepers, treacherous waters, and haunting legends. The Bodie Island Lighthouse will continue to be a beacon of history and intrigue for generations to come.

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LW Land offers numerous properties for sale near Bodie Lighthouse. With multiple North Carolina Oceanfront Lots available and even some private outer banks islands at Carolina Cays. We also have NC mountain lots and land for sale in numerous locations throughout the area. We have properties available in Boone, Blowing Rock, Cherokee, Black Mountain, Ashville and many others. See more...

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