a short walk from the ferry landing..., Bald Head Island, NC, USA
www.oldbaldy.org - 910.457.7481
Old Baldy Bald Head Island Reviews
You Won't Get Scalped Here..... Dec 23, 2010
Old Baldy is North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse and a real gem. Marking the mouth of the Cape Fear River, this lighthouse was raised way back in 1817 and was actually a replacement for the original beacon dating from 1795 (built too near the water and tore down before being toppled by erosion). Deactivated in 1935, you can still drop in and climb up to the top of this 110-foot structure for some remarkable glimpses of Bald Head Island.
During its active tenure, Old Baldy only went dark during the Civil War. The Cape Fear River would become the last supply route for the entire Confederacy as all major ports were sealed off by the Union navy. Blockade runners dwelled in darkness and had little use for any light sources. There was a substantial garrison of Confederate troops stationed on Bald Head Island throughout the conflict as protection of this final supply route was critical to the ebbing effort of Southern States.
The lighthouse remains intact because it was sturdily constructed. Built from red bricks recycled from the original lighthouse with the rest manufactured on site, the walls are five feet thick at the base! The brick was covered by a mixture of sand and lime and then whitewashed. Once deactivated, island inhabitants would occasionally patch things up, with the end result being the mottled appearance of grays, browns and white today.
A light keeper’s station has been rebuilt using the foundation from the original building which burnt down and converted into the Smith Island Museum (this being an earlier name for Bald Head Island). For five bucks you gain entrance to the museum and the lighthouse. The museum is tiny, but interesting and climbing to the top of Old Baldy is magnificent! There are five landings as you scale the steeply pitched stairways and finally scamper up a ladder to squeeze through a narrow opening into the top of the lighthouse. Up here you enjoy 360 degree views of the surroundings and it is quite delightful. You can hear wind rattling the windows, but the sturdy structure doesn’t shake at all – I’m sure Old Baldy will still be around to enjoy its two hundredth birthday, which will hopefully garner more attention for this obscure landmark.
Part of the North Carolina travel blog
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