Does Corolla Beach, North Carolina, Have Any Lighthouses?

Yes, Corolla Beach, North Carolina, has a lighthouse, but only one.  This lighthouse, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, is the Northernmost lighthouse of this area. Initially owned by the state of North Carolina, it is now privately owned and preserved.

The one hundred and the sixty-two-foot lighthouse is the only unpainted lighthouse in this area.  Not surprisingly, the lighthouse still works and is visible for eighteen nautical miles.

To get to the lens of this glorious lighthouse, one must walk the two hundred and twenty steps after paying a fee of ten dollars except for children under seven who are free.

Like many other lighthouses throughout the United States, this lighthouse offers a glimpse into the history of the Corolla, North Carolina area and a chance to physically touch and reflect on its use and importance in the success and safety of those traveling towards land from the ocean.

The presence of lighthouses in our history served to warn mariners of dangerous situations along the rocky coastline while guiding them in and out of the harbor they served.

Their messages were clear, simple, and easy to understand for those traveling to and from the harbor.

Today in our modern technological world and despite the use of GPS and other technology, they are still used and serve a purpose.  Their appearance also serves as a landmark in history and respect for all they have done.

Are there any other lighthouses in or around Corolla, North Carolina?

Yes, there are four other lighthouses along the North Carolina Coast, Outer Banks area.

Starting at the bottom of the Outer Banks and working our way back up to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse there is the Ocracoke Lighthouse.  After that there is the Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island Lighthouses, and the Roanoke Marsh Lighthouse.

Each lighthouse is colored and decorated in its unique design.  This has served a purpose historically and today to help mariners identify them, one from the other.  This was particularly important in areas where more than one lighthouse existed, like the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Ocracoke Lighthouse Station

This lighthouse station was once located at one of the busiest inlets along the East Coast.  Construction began in 1794 on Shell Castle Island, a small twenty-five-acre shell-covered island.

After the lighthouse and innkeepers’ quarters were constructed, other buildings like gristmills, houses, and others were built.

Sadly, this lighthouse didn’t last longer than twenty years and then was destroyed by lightning along with the innkeeper’s house.

A few years later, the federal government purchased land at the South end of the Ocracoke Island to construct the new lighthouse that still stands today.

Historically this lighthouse was also a place of refuge as it sat on higher ground and offered safety and survival from hurricanes and flooding waters for locals.

With an octagonal crown and solid brick walls of solid whitewash today it shines its stationary beam up to fourteen miles out to sea.

Today it is maintained by the Coast Guard and stands as the second oldest lighthouse in the nation.  Although it is not open for visitors to ascend the steps and reach the light, they can still view it from the surrounding grounds.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

This lighthouse maintained by the Coast Guard is the protector of one of the most dangerous sections along the Atlantic Coast, known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.  The original lighthouse constructed of sandstone at ninety feet tall was designed to prevent the dangers of this area.

However, its construction was ineffective, and its size was increased to one hundred and fifty feet, and color was added.  It was painted red on the top and white on the bottom, and at the same time, it was fitted with a stronger beam.

Does Corolla Beach, North Carolina, Have Any Lighthouses?

Eventually with time, there was a need for repairs. It was decided that a new lighthouse would be built, which brought its own set of problems and the eventual design of a unique floating foundation to deal with underground issues when building in this area.

Once this new lighthouse was constructed, it received the trademark black and white stripe pattern.  As the tallest lighthouse in the nation, its sturdy construction made it worthy of a short twenty-nine-hundred-foot trip to a more secure location away from eroding sand around it, which is where it still stands today.

Currently, there is no admittance for ascending the stairs leading to the top, but travelers can explore the grounds around it.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Needing assistance for vessels traveling South in the Cape Hatteras area, this lighthouse was constructed to serve that purpose.  When construction began with an engineer unfamiliar with constructing a lighthouse, it posed disaster when eventually it started leaning shortly after construction was complete.

The second lighthouse built in this area didn’t survive the Civil War, as it was blown up by Confederate Troops.  Finally, after much petitioning from ship captains, a third lighthouse was constructed.

At this time, this area was lonely and isolated from other surrounding areas, with only boat accessibility making it possible for the innkeeper and family to travel.

Now run by the National Park Service, it is still a functioning black and white striped tower offering tours during the summer months.  Its location is as unique as its history, but it continues to cast its glowing beam for all mariners who need it as they travel through the area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Roanoke Marsh Lighthouse

This cottage-style lighthouse is a most unusual design.   Its construction is the fourth bearing the Roanoke Marsh Lighthouse name as there were three previous lighthouses of the same.   It is a replica of the third lighthouse with the same name.

While it may look similar, it didn’t succumb to the untimely death after being decommissioned and sold to an individual who proceeded to relocate it unsuccessfully.  It was historically lost forever by the rough waters when it fell overboard off the barge relocating it.

Not much else is known about the lighthouses before this current fourth generation which was constructed through the determination of the town of Manteo.  It lies across the street from the Manteo Maritime Museum and offers a modern-day glimpse into a cottage style lighthouse while traveling to the Outer Banks.

It is open year-round for tourists, free of charge.

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What type of clothing and shoes should I wear when visiting a lighthouse?

When visiting a lighthouse, it is a good idea to wear sturdy shoes that are strong yet comfortable.  Open-toed shoes, flip-flops, and other summertime wear might be good for the beach but not here.

Clothing is not so much a factor for visiting a lighthouse although a light jacket or sweatshirt might be a good item to bring along as the inside of a lighthouse is typically cooler than the outside due to its construction and design.

Final Points

Lighthouses are steeped in our nation’s history as structures with vital purpose in the safety and protection of our water vessels, sea captains, and crew members that operated those vessels.

Travel the country’s coastal regions, and you will find numerous lighthouses, each with a unique history.  These are just a few of them, at the heart of the Outer Banks’ regions.  Each has their own story and still shine bright with purpose!

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