Monday, October 5, 2009

Bodie Island Lighthouse. Part 11 of Eleven.

We are at the last attraction of our day trip. This is Bodie Island Lighthouse. Pronounced "body." Mr. Hawthorne took the next three pictures of Bodie Island Lighthouse. He let me out so I could take the rest of the pictures and he'd loop back around to pick me up. I like his viewpoint. He was way back in the truck away from me. Note to Rosie: Both Walk IT And Stay IN the truck.
Located just south of Nags Head, the Bodie Island Lighthouse is the third beacon of that name built both to illuminate and to help mariners maneuver that perilous stretch of coast between Cape Hatteras and Currituck Beach. In 1837, because of the mounting number of shipwrecks off this section of the Outer Banks, the federal government sent Lieutenant Napoleon L. Coste to determine the best location for another lighthouse. Lt. Coste suggested a light 35 miles north of Cape Hatteras, on or near Bodie Island, would allow south-bound ships to fix their positions for navigating the menacing cape. Congress agreed, but the original construction was fraught with problems, beginning with a 10-year delay in acquiring the land. Once the purchase was finally made, the Auditor of the Treasury, who approved all lighthouse expenditures, was more interested in saving money than in building a proper lighthouse. As if that wasn't enough, the overseer of construction knew nothing about lighthouses and ignored the engineer's recommendations, resulting in a monument to inefficiency. The 54-foot tower did not house a Fresnel lens, but an inferior reflector lighting system that didn't work properly. The foundation was unsupported and quickly developed cracks and leaks and began to sink on one side. Within 12 years, the leaning lighthouse had to be abandoned and razed. It was rebuilt in 1859, again south of the inlet, and designed by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was almost 90 feet tall and the third-order Fresnel lens was visible fifteen miles out to sea. It was blown up in 1861 by retreating Confederate troops, trying to foil the Union Navy any way they could, and fearing the Union would use the lighthouse to their advantage for navigation. After 2 doomed attempts at the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the dispirited Lighthouse Board understandably dragged their feet about commissioning another lighthouse. It took several years of vehement petitions from concerned mariners before construction began on a third lighthouse. In 1871, the Lighthouse Board finally purchased a 15-acre site north of Oregon Inlet near the northern border of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Dexter Stetson, the construction foreman who had just completed the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, went to work, using the same foundation as used at Cape Hatteras. Bodie Island Lighthouse stands 156 tall and flashed its first-order Fresnel lens (160,000 candlepower beacon) (2 flashes every 22 seconds) 19 miles over the ocean for the first time on October 1, 1872. Since then, Bodie Island Lighthouse has had a relatively peaceful existence, except for an unfortunate flock of geese crashing into the lens just eighteen days after it was first lit. Strategically placed protective screening has kept the lens from further collisions with birds.


Anonymous said...

Wow, postcard perfect pics! You could be a professional photographer!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

So you wanna buy some pics?

Kathy said...

Bit of trivia. Although the Bodie Light has a first order Fresnel lens (about 6' tall), the highest grade of lens ever made, the Hatteras light does not. Of course it used to, but during the Civil war, it was removed to thwart the Union army and lost until recent years. Many of the prisms have never been recovered, and the NPS has been unable to locate another first order lens to replace it as they are no longer being made. Interesting, since of all the lights, you would think this one would have first priority for the biggest lens. What pieces have been recovered are now on display at The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum near the lighthouse. Interestingly, the electronic beacon currently being used can be seen further out to sea, although it is not the thing of beauty the Fresnel lenses are.

I think I told this right.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Kathy, you are a freaking font of ...
nay ... a cornucopia of intelligence and information.

Nancy N. said...

Hi Rosie,
I am a (very) amature painter, and I would like to use one of your Bodie lighthouse pictures as a reference. It has great lighting. May I have your permission?
Nancy Nice

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Thanks for asking.
Sure you can use my photograph.
I'd love to see your picture when you're done.

Nancy N. said...