Historical Markers StoppingPoints.com Historical Markers, Sightseeing & Points of Interest Scenic Roads & Points of Interest
About Us | Photo Gallery | Free Widgets | Featured States | Search Site
Home North Carolina Brunswick County City of Southport Historical Markers Bald Head Lighthouse

Bald Head Lighthouse

Bay Street, Southport, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 34° 3' 14.418", -78° 2' 42"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"First lighthouse erected 1796. Present octagonal tower, built 1817, is 109 ft. tall. Used until 1935."
     The lighthouse on Bald Head Island, planning for which began in 1783, was the first one authorized in North Carolina (the second was Ocracoke for which planning began in 1784). Plans were held up through the 1780s. In 1789 Benjamin Smith, who recently had acquired the island, promised the state ten acres for use as a site for a lighthouse. The legislature in accepting the tract set out restrictions on the use of the island as per the wishes of Smith: “Be it enacted than no person shall be allowed to carry on or keep on the said island, any cattle, hogs, or stock of any kind, poultry and a cow and calf to be kept by the keeper of the lighthouse excepted, or hunt on the same without special license of the said Smith.”

     Congress appropriated funds for the lighthouse on April 2, 1792. In addition the state legislature levied a tax of six pence per ton on freight moved up the Cape Fear River. The structure was completed in 1796. An engraving made in 1805 shows a waterspout at the mouth of the Cape Fear in close proximity to the lighthouse. Some years later, probably around 1812, the lighthouse was damaged beyond repair due to the effects of soil erosion. Congress appropriated $15,000 for a replacement. Daniel Way accepted the contract in July 1816 and finished the new lighthouse the following year. Use of “Old Baldy,” as it is known, was discontinued in 1835. The oldest lighthouse on the North Carolina coast, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. “Old Baldy” is distinctive for its eight-sided design and mottled appearance. Modern restoration efforts have returned the lighthouse to its nineteenth century appearance. A reproduction of the 1850s keepers cottage stands alongside the sentinel.

David Stick, Bald Head: A History of Smith Island and Cape Fear (1985)
David Stick, North Carolina Lighthouses (1980)
Cheryl Shelton-Roberts and Bruce Robert, North Carolina Lighthouses: A Tribute of History and Hope (2004)
Michael Hill, “Historical Overview of Smith Island (Bald Head Island), Brunswick County, North Carolina” (unpublished research report, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1984, microfilm copies available in North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina Collection, East Carolina University)
Bald Head Lighthouse Historical Marker Location Map, Southport, North Carolina