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Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Special Section to the Lighthouses of the New Jersey Shore Web Site

Cape Lookout, at the south end of the Core Banks, had long been considered a hazard to navigation. Indeed, because of shoals that extend some 10 miles out, one early mapmaker labeled it "Promontorium tremendum," which means roughly "horrible headland". The first lighthouse the government established here was described as being two towers: "the inside one is of brick - the outside one is a wooden framed building, boarded and shingled, and painted in red and white stripes horizontally." The light, 96 feet high and 104 feet above sea level, was not well regarded by navigators. As a result, the Lighthouse Board had the light tower fitted with a first-order lens in 1856.

Three years later the board erected a 150-foot brick tower whose light was 156 feet above sea level, activated November 1, 1859. At the beginning of the Civil War, southern troops vandalized the lens, putting it out of operation. In 1863 the Lighthouse Board relighted the tower, using a third-order lens. Four years later, the original first-order lens was repaired and reinstalled in the lantern. In 1873 the light tower was painted its distinctive black-and-white diamond pattern to make it a better daymark. In 1950 the Coast Guard automated the light, which is still active. The light tower, now in need of repair, is one of the principal historic structures of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. The tower is closed to visitors. However, the National Park Service has restored the keeper's quarters and made it into a visitor center.

Location: Cape Lookout National Seashore. By ferry from Hacker's Island.
Built: 1812, 1859
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