The first lighthouse at Ocracok Inlet was located on Shell Castle Island,
just inside the inlet. It was built concurremtly with the first Cape
Hatteras lighthouse and it was intended to guide vessels over the inlet
bar at night. Built by Henry Dearborn, a former congressman and future
secretary of war who also built the 1803 Cape Hatteras, the old Shell Castle
light served from 1803 until August 16, 1818, when lightning destroyed
the tower and the dwelling. The Treasury had the lighthouse rebuilt
in 1823 on the banks near the village of Ocracoke, an important shipping
point. The 76-foot white conical masonry tower was an inlet aid, and
in 1854 the Lighthouse Board installed a fourth-order lens in its lantern.
The Confederates damaged the lens in 1861, so in 1864 the board installed
another lens. Now automated, the light is 75 feet above the water and is
still active. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in North Carolina
and one of the oldest active lights along the Southeast coast. The
light is rehabilitated and there is a park surrounding the lighthouse.
Location: Two miles north of Ocracoke Inlet. South of Cape Hatteras
on Route 12.
By ferry from Cedar Island off U.S. 70.
Built: 1803, 1823
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