52 Weeks of Fun

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Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Located in the heart of Corolla, it borders the historic Whalehead and is still a functioning guide for passing mariners. At 162' feet tall, the lighthouse's First Order Fresnel lens can be seen for 18 nautical miles as the light rotates in 20-second increments.

This lighthouse stands out for its distinctive red exterior. This design was intentional, to set the Currituck Lighthouse apart from its Outer Banks neighbors. After completion, the lighthouse was left unpainted, allowing visitors to marvel at the sheer number of bricks involved in its construction.

For centuries, hundreds of ships were lost in the treacherous waters off of the Outer Banks. In the Northern Outer Banks, ships traveling close to shore to avoid the swift and tumultuous Gulf Stream could easily get shipwrecked against the shoreline, as the miles of Currituck's barrier island was relatively uninhabited, with nothing but dark coastline to confuse and disorient the passing sailors.

In response, construction began on the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in 1872, and three years later on December 1, 1875, the lighthouse was lit for the first time as a beacon to passing ships. Adjacent to the lighthouse, a Victorian-style lighthouse keepers' home was built in 1876, providing housing for the principal keeper's family and two assistants' families.

The lighthouse was electrified in 1933, and the keeper's positions were discontinued in 1937. Over the next four decades, the lighthouse keeper's home began to fall into disrepair. In 1980, the non-profit organization Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc., as well as the state of North Carolina, took notice of the deteriorating home and began a complete restoration of the original keepers' home and the overall Currituck Beach Lighthouse grounds.

With such intricate work involved, the restoration of the home itself continues even today, but other buildings, including a small 1920 white dwelling intended for a third lighthouse keeper, are completely remodeled and serve as gift shops, storage areas, and information centers.
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse grounds are open for exploration all year long. Visitors can stop by at any time of the year to explore and get an up-close view of the famous brick lighthouse and outlying buildings. The grounds close occasionally for staff vacations and repair work.

Seasonally, the lighthouse itself is open to visitors who can climb the 220 steps to the top, where unparalleled views of the Whalehead, the Currituck Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean await. For those who make the climb, museum-quality exhibits are located at the base of the lighthouse and its first two landings, including the history of the Fresnel lens, which is still in operation.


A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Currituck Beach Lighthouse

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla was the last brick and mortar lighthouse in North Carolina to be built. It shines to help ships avoid the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

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  • Currituck Beach Lighthouse
  • Corolla
  • (252) 453-4939