Bodie Island Lighthouse
Located just south of Nags Head, the Bodie Island Light, encircled by two black and three white bands, stands 150 feet high. Equipped with a first-order Fresnel lens, it flashes its 160,000 candlepower beacon 19 miles over the ocean.
Originally built in 1847, the lighthouse was rebuilt with improvements in 1859. In 1862 Confederate troops blew up the structure to prevent its use by the Union forces, which occupied the Outer Banks.
On October 1, 1872, the present tower was put into operation and is the third lighthouse built on the site at a cost of $140,000. According to a light keeper on duty at the time, shortly after this light was activated, a flock of wild geese flew into the lantern, breaking the glass and causing severe damage to the lens. It was quickly repaired, and a wire screen was placed around the light to prevent further mishap.
The name Bodie was originally spelled Body and is still pronounced "body" (as in "a body of water"). There are several stories, which attempt to explain the spelling and pronunciation. Some say it was because so many bodies washed ashore from shipwrecks. Some claim it was because an island is a body of land. Others believe it was the name of someone who helped build the light or was stationed there.
The lighthouse is not open for climbing, but the keeper's quarters have been restored and are now used as a visitor's center, which is open year round. There is also a nature walk through the surrounding marsh.
Location: Within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Facilities: Guided tours are offered at the Bodie Island Lighthouse at set intervals, on a daily basis. For more information, including tour times and admission price, please visit the Bodie Island Lighthouse website. (View our seven tips for climbing the lighthouse.) The keeper’s quarters have been restored and are now used as a visitor’s center which is open year round. There is also a nature walk through the surrounding marsh.