Frying Pan Shoals Light
Frying Pan Lightship and Light Tower
|Year first constructed||1966|
|Height||80 ft (24 m)|
|Fog signal||Fog horn|
Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower is a decommissioned lighthouse located approximately 29 miles (47 km) southeast of Southport, North Carolina. The light tower is modeled after a steel oil drilling platform, known as a “Texas tower” on top of four steel legs that was engineered to be used as a lighthouse housing several Coast Guard members. The 80-foot (24 m) light tower marks the shoals at the confluence of the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. The platform consists of two floors. The subfloor is a living area of approximately 5,000 square feet (460 m2) that includes seven bedrooms, kitchen, office, storage area, recreation area and toilet facilities.
The light tower is accessible by helicopter and by boat. A January 2010 onsite inspection by an engineering firm that was contracted by the Coast Guard determined that the helipad platform can indeed support a helicopter and that the entire structure, while in need of repair was 'structurally sound'. The lower stairs to the light tower were destroyed by a hurricane and the mid to upper section stairs has experienced significant deterioration due to the salt environment.
The tower was replaced by a buoy in 2003 and no longer serves as an aid to navigation but due to the structure attracting a wide range of aquatic life, it is an oft visited site for fishermen and divers. The Coast Guard considered demolishing the light for use as an artificial reef, but instead held an online auction where the winning bid was by a South Carolina diving and research firm Shipwrecks, Inc. in 2009 for $515,000. However, the company failed to make the down-payment and subsequently, the tower returned to government hands and was sold again in August 2010 for $85,000 to a private individual, Richard Neal of Charlotte, North Carolina. Neal, with the aid of volunteers, has refurbished the light, converting it into a "bed-and-breakfast for the adventurous", with accommodation for up to eight. The facility is now open for paying guests.
- "Frying Pan Shoals". Carolina Lights.com. March 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- "What are Frying Pan Shoals?". July 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- "New life for N.C.'s Frying Pan Shoals offshore tower". 2010-08-26. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- A hotel 34 miles from land: The Frying Pan Tower - CNN Video, retrieved 2016-10-09