Saturday, August 07, 2010

National Lighthouse Day

I must admit...I didn't know there was a National Lighthouse Day until I read the comment on yesterday's post. I'm guessing that most Ocracoke islanders don't know this either.

According to the American Lighthouse Foundation, "It was on this day in 1789, that Congress approved an Act for the establishment and support of lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers. In Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the Act and the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse, Congress passed a resolution which designated August 7, 1989 as National Lighthouse Day."

There is also a United States Lighthouse Society. I just yesterday discovered these web sites, so I don't know much about the two organizations, but thought some of our readers might enjoy perusing the sites.

Ocracoke's lighthouse was built in 1823 by Noah Porter of Massachusetts for $11,359.35 (this included the keeper's quarters). It is the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina; the second oldest in the United States (bowing only to the beacon at Sandy Hook, NJ). Standing about 77 feet tall (depending on where you measure) the tower tapers from a diameter of 25 feet at the base to 12 feet at the top. The solid brick walls are five feet thick at the bottom and two feet thick at the top. The electric light bulb in the lantern is surrounded by a fourth order Fresnel lens (a whale oil lamp originally provided the flame).

Ocracoke's plain white lighthouse with a steady beam is arguably the island's most prominent landmark, and is beloved by all.

Happy National Lighthouse Day!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here:

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