The Ocracoke Lighthouse, built in 1823, was powered first by whale oil, then lard, and finally kerosene before converting to electricity in 1929. The day the lights went on electrically was the Black Friday, the stock market crash of 1929 (October 1929), leading to the worst financial debacle and depression in history. But the lighthouse lit the way, the economy recovered and prospered, and the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse still shines brightly showing mariners the way.
The first lighthouse failed after only a few years and in 1822, the Federal Govt bought two acres of land for $50 and commissioned a new lighthouse. The original budget for the lighthouse was $20,000, quite a sum for 1822, but the contractor finished the lighthouse before deadline and far under budget – only $11,359. Whoever heard of any Federal contractor these days bringing in a project significantly under budget and beating deadline!
The lighthouse is only about 75 feet tall, versus the Cape Hatteras lighthouse at 225 feet tall. But Ocracoke was built in 1823 and Hatteras in 1870, but Ocracoke was the tallest of its time.
If you go, Ocracoke Lighthouse is not usually open to visitors and the lighthouse keeper’s quarters next door are now a private residence. But check at the Visitors Center/Ranger Station because we were lucky and the lighthouse was open from 2 PM – 4 PM today. 🙂 You just never know until you ask!
Do you know even better trivia about the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan