Lighthouse information can be obtained at National Park Service visitors center near the Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferry dock. Diagonal astragals, an old lighthouse architectural style, form the distinguished pattern of its windows. The 1823 Ocracoke tower is currently the oldest operating lighthouse on NC coast. (Bald Head is five years older but no longer an active aid to navigation). The tower is 65 feet tall, and it is 75 feet to focal plane at the center of the lens. It has a fixed white light from a 4th order Fresnel lens. Keepers once boiled a concoction of glue and rice in huge vats and quickly applied the hot mixture as a protective coating to the brick."
North Carolina Lighthouses
Cheryl Shelton-Roberts, Photos by Bruce Roberts
© 2000 Cheryl Shelton-Roberts and Bruce Roberts
Lighthouse Publications, P.O. Box 1124
Moorehead City, NC 28557
Permission granted to use electronically, August 25, 2000
"The first lighthouse at Ocracoke Inlet was the 1798 Shellcastle Rock lighthouse located on an island in the inlet. In such a location - defenseless against storms, tides, and winds - the lighthouse was often inoperative when needed most. Thus, in 1823, it was replaced by this light, the Nation's second oldest still in use. The non-rotating light is 75 feet above sea level an can be seen a full 360 degrees to a distance of fourteen miles. The walls are five feet thick at the base and are made of brick with mortar surface.
The two-story structure to your right originally housed the lighthouse keeper and his family. Today it is a private residence. The small black building formerly provided storage for lamp fuel. Whale oil, porpoise oil and kerosene have all served as fuel for the light. Today the light is electric and this building houses an auxiliary generator.
The light is owned and maintained by the United States Coast Guard and is closed to the public."