Ocracoke Light

Ocracoke, North Carolina

Historic Significance Score: 5

The Outer Bank’s island of Ocracoke has been no stranger to sea-faring history as Sir Walter Raleigh’s expeditions touch land there in the late 1500’s.

This being said, Ocracoke’s most famous sea-faring son was more of the notorious type. Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard the pirate used the island of Ocracoke as a hideout port during his looting expeditions.

Ocracoke also served as as the place of Blackbeard’s death, as the British Naval Officer Robert Maynard beheaded the pirate in November of 1718, after a bloody and savage battle that is full of folklore about the fierceness and determination of Blackbeard to live and what it took to kill him. Some legends have Blackbeard’s body swimming around Maynard’s vessel a few times after decapitation. There is still belief that Blackbeard haunts the waterways!

The island is so linked with the lore of the famous pirate, that one legend tells that Blackbeard’s screams of “Oh Crow Cock!”, in which he pleaded to see morning during a night of bloody battle, christened the Island with its name.

The island of Ocracoke also took part in the American Revolution. A military unit was formed in the inlet to oversee and use the port to transport supplies to the Revolutionaries.

The lighthouse also took part in the military history of the U.S. In the early stages of the Civil War, Confederate soldiers actually removed the lens from the Ocracoke Lighthouse, only to have Northern troops reinstall a lens in1863, after the land mass of the Outer Banks was secured by the Union.

Ocracoke Light is the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the North Carolina coast.

Majesty Score: 4

Ocracoke Light has impressive majesty! For only being 65 feet, It can be seen around the entire Silver Lake. Its old type architecture also aids in its majesty and mystique.

Water View Score: 2

Unfortunately, one can not see any water from the base of this light. Silver Lake, which the light watches over, is about two blocks away from the light.

Silver Lake is a very beautiful lake that has the feel of a New England fishing village.

The lake is surrounded by small hotels, souvenir shops and restaurants with many small docks jutting out into the water. The lake serves as the center of town.

Preservation Score: 5

The lighthouse, which is owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, is pristinely maintained.

Surrounding Area: 5

Ocracoke Island is one of the most beautiful island towns in America! It is on the southern tip of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and it is an island that is only accessible by ferry.

The shape of the island resembles a sewing needled, with the northern 12 miles of the island being represented by a thin strip of land that Route 12 cuts down the middle with beautiful sand dunes and beaches on each side. The southern tip features the town situated on Silver Lake which represents the hole in the sewing needle.

The island has a resident population of between 700 and 800 people, and it you are lucky enough you will find a resident with an Ocracoke distinctive brogue, which is becoming more difficult to find as the island is being indoctrinated with mainland people, and previous generations are passing on.

You may also be lucky enough to see wild ponies roaming the island which are believed ot be descendants of shipwrecked Spanish mustangs. For those who don’t have the safari temperament, there is a pony farm on Route 12. A local actually informed me they are misnomered as ponies, because they are actually small horses.

The island also features as a tourist attraction a British graveyard where 4 British Navy seamen are buried whose bodies washed a shore after the HMS Bedfordhire was sunk by a German Submarine. The cemetery is leased under an agreement with the State of North Carolina and the Government of Britain.

Accessibility Score: 2

Neither the lighthouse or its keeper’s house is opened to the public. The only access that visitors have to the lighthouse is by using a planked walkway (See right) that runs along the side of the property. The lighthouse can not be touched. This walkway, couple with the parallel picked fences provide some really great photo shots.

Beacon Score: 4

The lighthouse features a 4th order Fresnel lens that operates its constant light from dusk to dawn. The light can be see from any angle of the lighthouse.

Overall Score and Overview: 27

Ocracoke Lighthouse and island is a great lighthouse trip! Despite the limited access to the lighthouse, it is still a beautiful site to see.

To visit Ocracoke is a very special treat and to experience its perfect beaches is to experience the best our country has to offer! Ocracoke is consistently and systematically honored by being named on multiple “The Best Beaches in America” lists.

For those who really want a beautiful place to vacation foremost, and a lighthouse experience a close second, Ocracoke would quickly move to the top of the list and compete with any lighthouse location in America!

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