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Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla

Wednesday May 9,, 2018                                                   Most Recent Posts
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Nags Head, North Carolina




There are 220 steps up the Curritcuck Beach Lighthouse for a  view of Currituck Sound on one side and the Atlantic Ocean  on the other.   On Wednesday we drive 44 miles north to Corolla.  That’s as far north as you can go on the North Carolina Outer Banks.

The light is about half way down the coast between the Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach, Virginia and  Bodie Island Light.  It is still in use and has a first order Fresnel lens that can be seen for 18 nautical miles.  It flashes for 3 seconds, is off for 17 seconds and repeats that cycle.

It’s a beautiful unpainted brick lighhouse.  One million bricks they say.  I doubt if it’s that exact.  Maybe one million two hundred and forty three?




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Also on the grounds are several other builidings including a gorgeous double Keepers House and a smaller Head Keepers House.  To see them now you would have no idea what disrepair they were in not so very long ago. 

No one was willing to step in and restore the national landmark so local citizens formed the Outerbanks Conservationists (OBC) to save the structures.  They’ve spent more than three decades and nearly $1.5 million from private funding restoring, maintaining and operating the lighthouse. OBC receives no government funds. OBC opened the lighthouse to the public on July 1, 1990.   I was more than willing to pay my $10 climbing fee to support this effort and the really fine exhibits inside.


In the Lighthouse  base and on first two landings are fantastic exhibits on history of  this lighthouse as well as lighthouses in the U.S., particularly along the Southeast coast, and from around the world.  There is also information on the fresnel lens.   I climbed the lighthouse first and did the exhibits on my way back down.  While I was there people either just walked by with a glance or spent a moment or two at the exhibits which is a shame since they were extremely well done.

In the exhibits were these pictures of the buildings which showed clearly how hard this group had worked.


The Lighthouse and Double Keepers residence in 1893.



Here’s what had happened to it by the time the group stepped in to save it in the 1970’s.



Here it is today, still directly across from the Lighthouse with two separate paths from each residence leading to the oil house entry and a cistern for water on either end.  The work done is beyond outstanding.

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The Head Keepers House was in deplorable condition and required considerable structural repairs before it could be used as it is today as the gift shop.  What a loss this would have been without the OBC.



Hard to believe it’s the same building.

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Tickets for climbing are sold just inside the door.  On December 1st of this year it will be 145 years old since the lighthouse was constructed and they are offering free climbs to celebrate.  Wonder if there will be a cake for the party??



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At the ground floor exhibit I look up before beginning my climb up the spiral staircase.


It’s hard not to want to spend time at the attractive exhibit but there will be time for it later.

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At each level’s window there is information to tell you how far you are above the ground and a few facts about the lighthouse or the keepers..  This one is 20 feet from the ground and faces East.


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I’m 42’ up and facing west.  The first two levels also have smaller exhibits.  Might be nicer to have those further up when folks really need an excuse to rest a bit.







Up, Up.  Around and around.



At 82’ up and facing west I stop to look down both inside and outside..  I can see the Double Keepers house and the ground floor.




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The next window is 102’ from the ground and faces east.  I can see the Atlantic.


One last set of stairs to the final landing.  As I go up, there are 4 windows.  One facing each direction.

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The developments in the distance are primarily huge summer rental homes.


Development on the East and South and North but the wetlands and the sound have protected the west.



And then I’m in the doorway to the balcony.


A 360 degree view.  All I have to do is walk around the circle.


Hmmm, those look suspiciously like man made “ponds”.  Why with natural wetlands?

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I see the Double Keepers House. The sound looks closer than I thought.



Just around from it, nearly hidden by the trees, is the Main Keeper’s house Gift Shop


David is waiting for me on the bench beside the house.  Becasue of his heart surgery he isn’t able to climb today.   Can you see him.  He has on an orange jacket.


Does the yellow arrow help?


How about now?

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While I’m up here I try for a better shot of the Fresnel Lens without much success but you can see what appears to be a door perhaps?

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Time to head down those 220 steps.

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One last look down as others are climbing up.

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At the lowest two levels I stop to look at the exhibits there.  When I get down to the base I ask the woman at the ticket window if David may come just that far to see the exhibits since they are so excellent and becasue of his health he is unable to climb.  She is happy that he’d like to.


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We both really enjoyed the exhibits.   Here are some of the things that were most interesting.  Take a look at the number of ship wrecks along the coast here at the Graveyard of the Atlantic in North Carolina.  The type is so small you can hardly read them even in the very large graphic.



A drawing of  the lighthouse in Alexandria Egypt from 300 BC.  A 450’ tower with a fire blazing at its top.  The building was listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and survived until it was toppled by earthquakes.  And one of the Genoa Italy Lighthouse considered to the the tallest lighthouse that’s still active.  Built in 1544 it replaced an earlier one dating from the dark ages.  Very different surrounings today.  Take a look.

There  is a map showing all the lighthouses from Maine to Key West on the East Coast.  This is the Southern Virginia to South Carolina Section.  The lighthouses are much closer together (approximately 30 miles apart) here than anywhere else on the east coast.

Looks like we’ll have to return to see Ocracoke and Cape Lookout.  We have less than a week left here on the Outer Banks.



After visiting the Lighthouse we walk back toward the see Ocracoke Village, drive out to Curritucks Bank Reserve for some short hikes and end our day visiting with Carrie’s in-laws Bob and Joan Iwanowski who have a beach home here.   But this post is about the lighthouse.  The rest of our day will be in the next post.

12 comments:

  1. Beautiful shots from the top. Glad David is there, too. Was the lighthouse ever closer to the water I wonded?

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  2. We really enjoy lighthouses. They did a great job on the restoration:)

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  3. That's the lighthouse where I bought the poster of the staircase for Beek. Pretty! xxxooo

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  4. Amazing about all the shipwrecks. There must be a lot of treasure to find.
    It makes you wonder how they could have built those huge lighthouses so many years ago.

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  5. After looking down the spiral staircase I'm guessing Lighthouse Keepers must have had strong legs and hearts!

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  6. I'm surprised you didn't take the time to count all the bricks and get the accurate number. Now I'm going to have to put that on my list of places to go and things to do when I get there. :cD

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  7. That is quite an impressive lighthouse!

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  8. I missed when David joined you back at Winona, good to see him "waaaay down there!" :-) What a beautiful brick lighthouse! The restoration of the keepers buildings was a huge feat, and now they look like they've always been like that. Local groups who take on these huge projects that we all get to enjoy are true heroes. The views out the deep windows are great - as are those from the top!!

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  9. That's a great lighthouse. Been there several times but only went up once. The little village and shops at the base are also nice as are the the museums on the adjacent property. It's a great area.

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  10. OMWow, thank goodness for friends' groups. Love the shots looking up and down the spiral staircase. I too missed David's return and am glad to know he's recuperating.

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  11. So glad to see David back with you! With the cardiac rehab he's doing he'll be climbing those lighthouse steps with you before too much longer. :-) It's great that he was able to come inside to enjoy the exhibits with you. That was quite the renovation on the light keeper's house—I'm kind of surprised they were able to save it. It sure looks beautiful now! I agree with Gaelyn, thank goodness for friends' groups. They've saved a lot of historic structures that would have otherwise been lost.

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  12. Glad to hear David’s rejoined you. The brick exterior makes this one different from the other lighthouses we’ve visited. I enjoyed seeing what’s inside ... the place was locked up tight when we visited.

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