One of the big attractions of the Outter Banks is the three light houses (Bodie, Hatteras and Ocracoke), with Hatteras probably being the most famous. The lighthouse is the unofficial symbol of North Carolina, with its bold white and black stripe daymark pattern.
The current light house at Hatteras was built in 1870. It replaced the original lighthouse built in 1803, and is 60 feet taller than its predecessor. It is the world’s tallest brick lighthouse at 198.5 feet, built with 1,250,000 bricks baked in kilns along the James River in Virginia and brought in scows into Cape Creek where it was hauled by oxen one mile to the building site in Buxton. Its walls at the base are 14 feet of solid masonry and narrow to eight feet at the top.
The lighthouse was moved 2,900 feet in 1999, making it the tallest masonry structure to ever be moved. The move took 23 days. The Principle lightkeeper’s house (which is currently the administrative offices) and the larger assistant light keeper’s houses, where several assistant light keepers and their families all lived (currently the museum and visitor’s center), two cisterns and the oil shed were also relocated to the new site. A new building containing a gift shop and restrooms was built adjacent to the parking lot.
Visitors can visit the old lighthouse site, where a masonry ring was left to mark the location of the original placement and granite blocks are engraved with the names of all of the light keepers who served at the lighthouse.
The museum of the sea includes an informative film about the light house, as well as exhibits about the history, maritime heritage and natural history of the Outer Banks, the lighthouse and the Life Saving Service. The visitor center offers information about the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, ranger programs and a bookstore.
For a fee of $8for adults, $4 for children under 12 and seniors over 62, visitors can climb the 268 stairs during the summer months (April to mid-October). Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and are only available at the ticket booth on site. Tickets are only available for the day of purchase. We were there in late October, and the lighthouse was closed However, the rest of the complex was open. There is no fee for the visitor's center or museum.
Even though we were not able to climb the lighthouse, it was well worth the drive. The grounds are well maintained, and the museum exhibits are interesting and informative.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.