Why You Should Visit “Old Baldy”
Proud, tall, and rich with historic significance, the Bald Head Island Lighthouse is a major focal point of the Cape Fear Region. It’s the oldest lighthouse still standing in the state of North Carolina. “Old Baldy” has seen its fair share of conflicts, ships, and visitors. It’s considered one of the most important structures to ever grace the mouth of the Cape Fear River. To this day, remains an important landmark for tourists. Here are a few reasons why you should put Old Baldy on your summer bucket list.
This lighthouse has maintained its original location and physical form for over 187 amazing years. Old Baldy is one of three original lighthouses that were built to guide ships into the mouth of the Cape Fear River.
200 Years of History
The original lighthouse guarding the mouth of the river was first lit in 1794. The second lighthouse was completed and lit in 1817 and became known to the locals as Old Baldy. Constructed with brick and plaster stucco five feet thick, the structure was originally white. These days looks more like a quilt of different stuccos. Over time it became evident that Old Baldy was not tall enough, too far inshore, and not powerful enough to guide ships as needed. This was more evident in bad weather. So, a third lighthouse was constructed to replace it. Old Baldy continued to mark the shoreline of Bald Head Island for years to come until its official decommissioning in 1866.
Oak Island Lighthouse has been doing most of the official ship guiding since the 1950s. But Old Baldy has still survived the many long years of surf and wind to become an icon of the region. It remains an important landmark that attracts hundreds of tourists.
Here are a few reasons why you should visit Old Baldy:
Saying that Old Baldy has a lot of history is a gross understatement. From pirates and the American Civil War to World War II, this structure has seen it all. Several plaques and markers commemorate and teach visitors about the history of the lighthouse.
The Challenge of the Climb
Old Baldy is open to the public most days of the year. Many will visit just for the challenge of climbing all 108 steps and five landings to the very top of the lighthouse. The reward for those who can brave it to the top, is a breathtaking view of the island, surrounding marshes, waterways, Southport, and Oak Island.
Bald Head Island Itself
While the trip to see Old Baldy is worth it, Bald Head Island itself is filled with local shops and pristine beaches that will fill up your day for a perfect getaway. The island is easily accessible by a ferry from the Southport area. No cars are allowed on Bald Head Island either. You’ll have the unique experience of traveling by bicycle or golf cart!
Smith Island Museum
Housing many nautical items of interest, the Smith Island Museum is a great place to take a tour of coastal North Carolina’s past. You might even find a souvenir or two to bring back for someone else!
Take a Visit
Incredibly, such a historical structure has stood the test of time essentially unchanged for over 200 years. Even more exciting is knowing that you have this amazing landmark just minutes away for you while living at the Home Place of Southport. If you’re out around the local area this summer, be sure to stop and say hi to Old Baldy.