Bodie Island (traditionally pronounced “body” but “bo-dee” by many non-residents) is a long, narrow peninsula that forms a portion of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Originally, the body of land was indeed an island. The inlet separating it from the Currituck Banks closed and the result is now Currituck Banks and Bodie Island are one long peninsula joined in the Nags Head area where the inlet once cut through. Bodie Island is the home to Bodie Island Lighthouse, presently a part of the National Parks Service.
The first lighthouse in the vicinity was built in 1847. It was abandoned in 1859 because the foundation was crumbling and it was an unsafe
building. The second lighthouse, built on the location of the first, was built in 1859. This one was blown up by retreating Confederates so that it wouldn’t fall into the hands of advancing Union troops.
Today’s Bodie Island Lighthouse was completed in 1872 on the north side of Oregon Inlet across the small body of water from the location of the first two. Much of the material used in the present lighthouse was leftover building material from the construction of the then just-completed Cape Hatteras lighthouse. The 156-foot tower was automated in 1954 and the 1st order Fresnel lens gives two flashes every 22 seconds that can be seen for 19 miles.
Today, Bodie lighthouse is the centerpiece of a National Park. Also on the grounds are the restored duplex that originally housed the lighthouse keeper, his assistant and their families. You can also enjoy a nature walk through the surrounding marsh on park grounds.
While the visitor’s center is open to the public, the lighthouse was closed in the fall of 2009 for renovation and restoration. Among the items on the “to be repaired” list, is the original Fresnel lens. The 344 prisms which make up the lens have been removed and individually packed in preparation for cleaning before being returned to the top of the structure.
Besides the work on the lens and the iron framework holding it, additional items are:
–Strengthening the support of its 10 flights of spiral staircase and replacing 21 cracked stair treads;
–Repairing or replacing corroded metal features in and around the gallery and lantern decks;
–Repairing masonry and stone;
–Repairing or replacing where necessary the marble and slate at the bottom floor, the roof, the windows, and the framing in the attached oil house;
–Removing lead paint and repainting the interior;
–Replacing electrical lines, conduit, interior lights, and lightning protection;
–Installing a fire detection and suppression system.
Current plans are to have the lighthouse re-open to the public in the fall of 2011.
Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist living in Asheville, North Carolina. He has traveled the world documenting the tears, joys, laughter and lives of people everywhere. He currently focuses his attention and his camera on people, places and things in the United States. A portion of the proceeds from each photo shoot is donated to organizations that help the homeless in the communities in which he works. You can see more of his photography by clicking here.