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20 Apr 2022
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The shores of Oak Island are an iconic feature of the North Carolina coast. For generations of families the sight of the Oak Island lighthouse on the horizon was the signal that their Oak Island beach vacation has officially begun. With the recent decision of many school systems to have online classes only, there is the opportunity to extend your vacation season. Early fall is a wonderful time to visit Oak Island. The water temperatures are still warm, the weather is perfect and the crowds have thinned. Of course, with most of our homes having Wi-Fi it's easy to bring school to the beach for a week. Need a little history lesson for the kids? This week we have everything you need to know about one of North Carolina's unique historical markers, the Oak Island lighthouse. 

How do I find the lighthouse?

The Oak Island lighthouse is easy to find. Oak Island is a relatively small island and there are few roads, so making your way to the island for the day from Wilmington, Southport or Myrtle Beach is easy. So, even if you aren't staying on Oak Island there is no reason not to come visit us here. 

The actual address of the lighthouse is: 300 Caswell Beach Road, Caswell Beach, NC 28465.  Coming from Southport, you will cross the bridge to the island and at the first intersection take a slight bend in the road to the left, keeping the Oak Island golf course on your left. You'll find the lighthouse just up the road on the left. 

If you are coming from the island itself just head east. When you arrive at the end of the island you will see the Oak Island Golf Club. Just head to the right and in a few minutes you will be at the Oak Island lighthouse. 

Parking is limited at the base of the lighthouse, however, there is a beach access just a few yards down the road from which you can easily walk to the lighthouse. 

What is the purpose of a lighthouse?

For those of us who live on the coast, lighthouses are a normal part of the landscape. We grow up in their shadows and learn about them just by living here. However, if you come from a landlocked area, you might be wondering – What is the purpose of a lighthouse? 

In an era before GPS, Loran and other navigational tools, lighthouses served two primary purposes. The first was illuminating waterways made treacherous by shoals, reefs, rocks and other hazards as ships left the open ocean and pulled into port. Most lighthouses also include fog signals such as horns, bells or cannons, which would sound to warn ships of hazards during periods of low visibility.

The coast of North Carolina is known for its treacherous waters. Currents are strong, storms are common, and with these come shoals and other obstacles that are dangerous for the ships. 

Five facts about the Oak Island lighthouse

There are no stairs.

Unlike most lighthouse designs, the Oak Island lighthouse has a series of ladders that lead to the top. The designers did not include a spiral staircase (which you often find in a typical lighthouse). There are 131 steps to reach the top. 

It was the last lighthouse built.

Did you know that the Oak Island lighthouse was the last lighthouse built in North Carolina? It was completed in 1958.

How much did it cost?

The lighthouse may seem cheap by modern standards, but in 1958 it cost $110,000 to build. That was no small sum! 

It is not painted.

The distinct three strip pattern that identifies the lighthouse isn't paint. In fact, the lighthouse colors were actually cast into the concrete as it was poured. 

It required 24/7 construction.

The lighthouse was built with a monolithic concrete pour. This means that once they began pouring concrete they could not stop until the lighthouse was complete. In order to do this, the concrete was poured 24/7 until completion and a concrete plant was actually built on site to help accomplish this amazing feat. 

Are you ready to book your next Oak Island beach vacation? There is a lot of great weather left in the season, and fall is one of the best times of year to enjoy Oak Island.  Give us a call today at 910-278-1147 to speak with one of our friendly reservationist or click the button below to see our entire catalog of vacation homes. 

A Brief History of the Beautiful Oak Island Lighthouse