Oak Island Light

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Oak Island Light
Oak Island Lighthouse 07.30.2001.jpg
Oak Island Light House
Oak Island Light is located in North Carolina
Oak Island Light
Oak Island Light
Location Oak Island, Cape Fear River, North Carolina
Coordinates 33°53′34″N 78°02′06″W / 33.8929°N 78.035°W / 33.8929; -78.035Coordinates: 33°53′34″N 78°02′06″W / 33.8929°N 78.035°W / 33.8929; -78.035
Year first constructed 1958
Year first lit 1958
Foundation Concrete-filled steel pilings
Construction Portland concrete
Tower shape Round
Markings / pattern Bottom third of tower grey, second third white, third one black
Height 153 feet (47 m)
Focal height 169 feet (52 m)
Current lens DCB-436 Aerobeacon
Intensity 2,500,000 candlepower
Range 16 nautical miles
Characteristic Four flashes every 10 seconds
Admiralty number J2470
ARLHS number USA-558
USCG number


Oak Island Lighthouse
Location 300A Caswell Beach Rd., N of NC 133, Caswell Beach, North Carolina
Area 5.7 acres (2.3 ha)
Architectural style Lighthouse
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 07000293[1]
Added to NRHP April 5, 2007

The Oak Island Lighthouse is next to the United States Coast Guard station on Oak Island in North Carolina and is owned by the Town of Caswell Beach.


Being completed in 1958, the Oak Island Lighthouse is one of the newest lighthouses in the United States. This lighthouse was built when Cape Fear Light (AKA the Skeleton Tower) was demolished. It is made from concrete and stands 153 feet (47 m) tall (with only 148 ft. above the ground) and is anchored by 24 pilings that are 67 ft. deep (10" round and filled with concrete). It replaced the Cape Fear Lighthouse, a steel skeleton lighthouse near Cape Fear on Bald Head Island. (That lighthouse was demolished afterwards to avoid confusion.) The lighthouse marks the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and from 1958 until 1962 it was the brightest lighthouse in the US and second most powerful beacon in the world, only surpassed by a French lighthouse along the English Channel. In 1962 it lost that distinction due to a change in the bulb technology used. The light is 169 feet above the water and can be seen for 16 nautical miles,[2] which is needed to mark the entrance to the Cape Fear River and help ships avoid the dangerous Frying Pan Shoals.

The characteristic flashing pattern for the light is four one-second flashes every ten seconds. It has become the symbol for Oak Island and can be seen on many of the souvenirs sold there.

The top 52 feet of the lighthouse are black; the middle 50 feet are white, while the bottom 40 feet are grey. The final 11 ft. are the aluminum and glass light enclosure. These colors are not painted on the structure, having instead been mixed into the concrete at the time the tower was constructed.[3]

Current status[edit]

Oak Island Lighthouse from the air

In 2003 the Oak Island Lighthouse was designated as surplus by the Coast Guard, though it has continued operating the beacon. In 2004 the town of Caswell Beach was given ownership of the lighthouse and adjacent oceanfront property by the Federal Government in return for its agreement to maintain the property for parks and recreation purposes.[2] The lighthouse is open to the general public for tours to the second level (up just twelve steps) from Memorial Day through Labor Day on Wednesdays and Saturdays 10 A.M. - 2 P.M. for visitors aged seven or above. Tours to the top (up 131 ship ladder steps to an outside balcony) are offered year round (except for a few major holidays) for climbers aged nine or older. Many metal steps are nearly vertical; a style referred to as "ships ladders". Currently, light is produced from two separate 2.5 million candlepower aerobeam lenses. Reservations must be scheduled in advance by visiting the Oak Island Lighthouse web site at www.oakislandlighthouse.org.