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Home North Carolina Hyde County City of Ocracoke Island Historical Markers Ocracoke Lighthouse

Ocracoke Lighthouse

NC-12 at Point Road, Ocracoke Island, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Oldest N.C. lighthouse still in service. Erected 1823 to serve Ocracoke Inlet trade. 75 ft. tall. Located 1/4 mile S.W."
     The Ocracoke Lighthouse, measuring sixty-five feet from the ground to its light, was completed and illuminated in 1823, making it the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina still in service. Land for a lighthouse at Ocracoke was deeded to the state in 1790. Soon thereafter, the state abandoned the project upon receipt of word that lighthouses would be a responsibility of the federal government. On May 13, 1794, Congress authorized construction of a lighthouse on tiny Shell Castle Island just inside the entrance to Ocracoke Inlet, at the time the state’s most important trade route. John Gray Blount and John Wallace sold the lot to the government and the new light tower was completed in 1798. In time the fifty-four and one-half feet tall Shell Castle Lighthouse proved inadequate for the inlet’s trade and it was replaced in 1820 by a light vessel which also proved unsatisfactory.

     On May 7, 1822, Congress appropriated $20,000 for construction of a new lighthouse on Ocracoke Island. The builder, Noah Porter of Massachusetts, brought it in well under estimate for $11,359.35 including the keeper’s quarters. The two-acre site was acquired from Jacob Gaskill. The Ocracoke Lighthouse today stands much as it did in 1823, with very little alteration over the years.

David Stick, The Outer Banks of North Carolina (1958)
David Stick, North Carolina Lighthouses (1980)