| Continued from above... the Civil War, this lighthouse was controlled by Union troops. However, in 1861, Confederate troops slipped into the lighthouse and blew it up. |
The current Bodie Island Lighthouse was built in the model of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Even this lighthouse had a difficult beginning! Soon after it began operation in 1872, a flock of geese flew against the light, breaking glass panes and damaging the lens. Bodie Island Light is one of the very few lighthouses that feature an active 1st order Fresnel lens. It is a thing of beauty to see whether the sun is glistening off of it during the day, or the lens is lighting up the night in the evening.
Tall and slim, with bold black alternating with stark white circular stripes the 156-foot Bodie Island Lighthouse sits not on an island at all; it is located on the south side of Highway 12, between Nags Head and Oregon Inlet. For over 200 years, many a vessel encountered the huge waves, strong currents and high winds offshore near Bodie Island, and many met their fate along that stretch of the Atlantic.
While some people (including North Carolinians not from the Outer Banks) pronounce the name with a long "o" sound, it is traditionally pronounced as "body". This is derived from the original name of the area, which was "Bodies Island", after the Body family whom the land was purchased from. Some believe it is due to the number of dead sailors washed ashore from this portion of the Atlantic Ocean, which is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Local gift shops sell maps of the shipwrecks on the ocean floor. An impressive array of ships have been sunk in this area due to storms, shoals, or even German U-boats in World War II!
Even when considering this tower is over 150 feet tall, this light actually carries itself much larger than its physical height. There are very few lighthouses in America that you can spot from miles and miles away, and Bodie Island is one of these few. When considering Bodie Island as a lighthouse, it encompasses everything that one thinks of in their mind's eye when thinking of a great lighthouse. Its awe inspiring majesty, surrounding area, history and active 1st order Fresnel lens is everything one could want with a lighthouse experience.