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Bald HeadBald Head Island Light Station
aka Cape Fear, Smith Island, NC

Latitude: 33.8705
Longitude: -77.9953

Bald Head Island is located three miles offshore at the mouth of the famous Cape Fear River, in southern North Carolina near Wilmington. It is also close to the infamous "Frying Pan Shoals" which plagued shippers for centuries.

In 1795 the federal government decided that was necessary to place a lighthouse near the entrance in order to assure safety and navigation around the shoals and up the river to the increasingly important port of Wilmington. Consequently, in 1797 the first Bald Head Light Station was completed and lit.

It didn't last long, however, as constant erosion took its toll and the light was demolished, as ordered by the Lighthouse Board in 1813.

In 1818, a new octagonal brick tower was built. The new tower rose 90 feet and had a focal plane of 110 feet above sealevel. The builder was Daniel Way.

In 1851, an investigation showed that the light wasn't tall enough to be considered a coastal light and after repeated attempts, nothing was done to solve the problem other than to improve the beacon by installing a 3rd Order Fresnel Lens within its lantern room.

In 1861, the Confederate Army closed down the lighthouse for security reasons and five years later it was finally decommissioned by the Lighthouse Board. The reason for this was that a screwpile light had been erected at Horseshoe Shoals. In 1879, however, Bald Head was again reactivated and it stayed that way until 1903, when a 150-foot skeletal tower was constructed. That new light station was officially called the Cape Fear Lighthouse. The skeletal tower was demolished in 1958 by the U.S. Coast Guard in favor of the new Oak Island Lighthouse built on the opposite shore of the Cape Fear River. The Bald Head Light Station stayed active until 1935. At that time the Lighthouse Board decided to deactivate it for the last time. The lighthouse is maintained by the nonprofit Old Baldy Foundation and remains a private aid to navigation. Of its many interesting characteristics, one that stands out the most is its rectangular stairs made of yellow pine from nearby forests. There are 112 stairs to the top.

And, while the Keeper's Quarter's were destroyed many years ago, a replica was built in 2000 that houses a very attractive museum and store.

The Old Baldy Foundation (OBF) owns, maintains, and staffs this historic lighthouse. The museum and lighthouse spring climbing hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. & Sunday 11a.m.-4 p.m.   Lighthouse and Museum admission $6/adult (13 and up) $3/youth (3-12) 2 and under FREE. (The fee to climb the lighthouse goes entirely for the maintenance and restoration efforts for the lighthouse by the Old Baldy Foundation. The Foundation offers an attractive package for touring the island and lighthouse. For more information visit their website: http://www.oldbaldy.org/ The annual event, “The Pirates Are Coming,” a fun family event is July 31st-August 2nd.  To learn more about OBF, see http://www.oldbaldy.org/

Bald Head Island is accessible by passenger ferry from Deep Point Marina in Southport, North Carolina (GPS users:  1301 Ferry Rd. Southport, NC 28401).  Take NC 211 (Howe Street) into Southport, NC. Turn left at the light at Moore St. (NC 211 continues).  Bear right at the traffic circle.  Turn right into Deep Point Marina.  Follow the signs for passenger departure and follow instructions for parking.  Old Baldy Lighthouse is a short walk from the ferry landing on the island.  Current ferry costs are $23.00/per adult round trip, $14.00 per youth round trip (3-12) trip. Reservations for tram service is necessary, call 910-457-5003. Visit
http://www.southporttimes.com/baldheadislandferry.html for schedule.      

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* Currituck * Bodie * Hatteras * Ocracoke * Lookout * Oak Island * Baldhead *
* Roanoke River * Roanoke Marshes * Prices Creek *
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