One of the oldest historic structures in North Carolina, the Bald Head Island Lighthouse, also known as 'Old Baldy', is 90-feet tall, was visible for 14 nautical miles, and was built in 1818. An earlier tower was built in 1794, and guided shipping into the Cape Fear River.
One of the problems with the Bald Head Lights was its location ~ it is some four miles from the end of the cape. Another concern was that the light was ineffective at guiding shipping safely past the Frying Pan Shoals. According to the Lighthouse Board in 1851, that made it useless as a seacoast light. Later attempts to raise the tower and install a first order lens were unsuccessful.
The Confederates closed the light down in 1861 and, in 1866, the Board officially discontinued the light. This was due to the building of the Federal Point lighthouse, a screw-pile light built eight miles away. In 1879 the Federal Point light was discontinued when the New Inlet closed. A year later, the Bald Head light was reactivated. Again, a request was made to raise the light and install a first order lens, but Congress failed to act on the request for funds.
In 1893, the board proposed building a skeleton tower on Smith Island. The first appropriation for funding was made in 1898. In 1903, the new tower was activated. Its light was 159 feet above the sea and became officially known as Cape Fear. The old tower then became known as Bald Head light, and remained active until 1935, when it was deactivated by the Lighthouse Bureau.
The 1818 tower still stands, and shows a single-fixed light, its original optic having been removed.
Unfortunately, when we visited this light, it was after dusk, so we didn't get the pictures we wanted. We will definately need to return to Bald Head Light for more pictures.
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