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Photo Weekend: Oak Island Lighthouse and Green Swamp Preserve Carnivorous Plants (#13 Saturday)

  • 19 Jun 2021
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Wilmington, NC


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The Oak Island Lighthouse was completed in 1958 at a total cost of $110,000.00. The lights are 169 feet above the water. A misconception is that the lighthouse itself is 169 feet tall. The actual structure is 153 feet tall, but it stands on a slight rise. Therefore, the height of the light above the water is 169 feet, and it is so reported on nautical charts. There is no spiral staircase as found in most older lighthouses, but instead a series of ships ladders with a total of 131 steps to the lantern gallery level. The three bands of color that give the tower its distinctive daymark also speak of modern innovation and durability. For the first forty feet of the tower, workers poured natural gray cement. In forming the next fifty feet they used a mixture of white Portland cement and white quartz aggregate, and for the final fifty feet they mixed black coloring with the cement. The result is a monolithic tower with three bands that never need repainting.

In December 2020, the Coast Guard installed a revolving LED beacon atop Oak Island Lighthouse. The upgrade was the first change in the lighting apparatus at Oak Island Lighthouse since 1958 and was the Coast Guard’s first LED-based rotating beacon used in an active aid to navigation.

The Coast Guard still is in charge of maintaining the lights, but the public is able to climb the lighthouse through tours arranged through Friends of Oak Island Lighthouse. If that sounds like too much work, the town has constructed a boardwalk and an observation deck just across the street that provide a great view of the lighthouse.

*Check for Covid restrictions which may prevent a tour inside the lighthouse

Carolinas' Nature Photographers Association

P.O. Box 97323
Raleigh, NC 27624-7323

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