The Oak Island Lighthouse and Old Baldy
The local Southport area is full of rich history. Around every corner, historical markers tell the stories of Native Americans, pirates, French and Spanish Explorers and the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. To take a trip back in time, the Southport Historical Society has a self-guided historical walking tour available. Among the historical landmarks and 19th century architecture, a local favorite in the area are two lighthouses open for your touring pleasure: The Oak Island lighthouse and Old Baldy.
North Carolina is home to seven lighthouses, two of which are located right within our local area. Located just a few minutes from the Home Place of Southport, the Oak Island Lighthouse is situated on Caswell Beach. With a light that can be seen from 16 miles away, this lighthouse was the second brightest in the United States when it was constructed in 1958. The lighthouse sits 169 feet above the water, and the interior features 131 steep metal ship steps that lead to an outdoor balcony providing views of Oak Island and Caswell Beach. The Oak Island Lighthouse is still used today as a navigational aid along Southeastern North Carolina and gives off four bright flashes every ten seconds. The lighthouse is open for tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays beginning at 9:30 am. Space is limited so it is recommended you schedule your tour at least two weeks in advance. Parking and tours are free, and you must be at least 9 years old to climb to the top.
North Carolina’s southernmost lighthouse can only be ventured to by sea or by air. Old Baldy, located on Bald Head Island, was constructed in 1817. Being over 200 years old, the lighthouse displays signs of age with visible repair and patchwork. Within the lighthouse is 108 stairs and five landings, leading you to the top where spectacular views of Bald Head Island and the Cape Fear River Estuary are displayed. Make a day trip out of the experience by catching the ferry from Southport over to Bald Head Island. In addition to climbing the lighthouse, explore the grounds including the lightkeeper’s quarters, now used as the Smith Island Museum of History. Learn about the significance of Bald Head Island and experience a piece of the past for yourself. Tours are currently offered Tuesday – Sunday and admission for self-guided tours is $8 for adults and $5 for children.
Once used for seafarer navigation, these lighthouses still attract hundreds of visitors a year. They are beloved landmarks of the residents of Brunswick County and are just a small part of the coastal beauty and rich history our local area presents. We encourage you to let history come alive by touring these lighthouses and taking in the beautiful views for yourself!