December 11, 2011

Lighthouses on the Sands

It was another windy day on the Outer Banks.  It was sunny, but very windy nonetheless.  We started with a visit to the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, known primarily as the location of the “Lost Colony.”  It was here on Roanoke Island that Sir Walter Raleigh sponsored England’s first attempts at a permanent settlement in North America.

Between 1584 and 1587, England made three voyages of exploration to the island.  The goal of the voyage of 1587 was to establish a colony, and women and children were among the settlers.  Governor John White’s daughter gave birth here to the first English child born in the New World.  Relationships with the Algonquian Indians were tenuous from previous voyages, and supplies were in short supply.  Governor White returned to England for relief, but could not return for three years.  When he did return, he found no sign of the colonists, only the word “Croatoan” carved into a post.  The fate of the colonists has never been solved. The earthen fort has been reconstructed at Fort Raleigh, and the outdoor drama The Lost Colony is performed here each summer. 

Reconstructed Earthen Fort at Fort Raleigh
After a great seafood lunch, we made our way to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the first seashore to acquire such designation.  It was way too cold and windy to attempt a walk along the beach, but we enjoyed the scenic drive in the comfort of the RV.  We witnessed quite a bit of destruction that remains from Hurricane Irene, particularly in some of the smaller towns farther south.  The park seems to have recovered well, although fences are still down in places.

Shifting Sands

Bridge Over Oregon Inlet
Our favorite part of the day was visiting two of the lighthouses on the seashore, first Bodie Island and then Cape Hatteras.  Bodie Island Lighthouse was completed in 1872 and is 150 feet high.  The National Park Service began a major restoration project here in 2010, but work has stopped due to lack of funds.  It’s a beautiful lighthouse.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Bodie Island Lighthouse


Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, also known as America’s Lighthouse, is one of the best-known in the country.  Built in 1870, it is the tallest lighthouse in the country and is fully functional today.  This distinctive, black and white spiral-striped landmark was actually moved from its original location in 1999 to save it from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.  I followed the move at the time and still find it incredible that a structure like this could be successfully relocated.  What a beautiful sight.

This One Is More My Size

This Is a Really Big Chair


  1. Was the Hatteras Lighthouse open to climb? I remember the view is pretty wild from the top. Also, there is a nice bird sanctuary just south of the Oregon Inlet that is worth a hike into if the wind dies down. Hope the weather improves before you have to move on. LV

  2. LV, No, the lighthouse was not open to climb. Only the base was open. Unfortunately, the wind never did die down, so we opted out of hiking. The sancturary did look like a beautiful place, and it's a shame we were not able to see it up close. Oh well, there's a reason to go back someday! Sarah