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Outer Banks Historic Sites

Jump To: Buxton | Corolla | Frisco | Hatteras | Kill Devil Hills | Manteo | Nags Head | Ocracoke | Rodanthe

Buxton Historic Sites

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Museum
46375 Lighthouse Road
Buxton, NC 27920
(252) 995-4474
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, standing at 208 feet, is the tallest in the United States. The lighthouse is painted in black and white spirals, with a red base. Its light can be seen for 20 miles, warning ships of the submerged sand bars where so many ships have foundered. The present lighthouse is the second of three that have been situated on the cape. The first was authorized by Congress in 1794 and completed ten years later, shining a weak beam out over the ocean. Shells from Union ships damaged the light in 1861, and retreating Confederate soldiers took the original lamp from this first lighthouse. The lamp was never found. The present structure, the second tower, was erected in 1869-1870 by the U.S. Lighthouse Board. The Lighthouse Board became the Lighthouse Service, which is now part of the U.S. Coast Guard. A first-order Fresnel lens magnified a small oil wick flame at the tower's top, which was lit for the first time on December 16, 1870. Vandals damaged the lens in the present structure when the Federal Government abandoned it in 1935. A third temporary structure was built of steel in 1936 and placed about two miles northeast in Buxton. The light from the temporary tower was moved to the present lighthouse on July 23, 1950, which put it back into operation. When reactivated, it was replaced by a rotating beacon--a double affair with 1000-watt lamps in each beacon--visible for 20 miles. However, it has been reported as being seen 51 miles at sea and 115 miles in the air. The ''Double Keeper's Quarters'' is used to house the ''Museum of the Sea'' and the Buxton Visitor Center.

The Visitor Center offers and Eastern National bookstore and several bulletin board displays. The Museum is within the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Double Keepers Quarters. The two-floor museum contains exhibits on various aspects of history touching the Outer Banks, and some natural history display. A small audiovisual room provides for a variety of presentations.Most visitors visit both the Visitor Center and Museum during their visit to the adjacent Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. There is beach parking nearby, as well as the Buxton Woods Nature Trail.Ranger programs are scheduled during summer months and offered intermittantly, or as posted, the rest of the year.

Corolla Historic Sites

Currituck Beach Lighthouse & Gift Shop
1101 Corolla Village Road
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-4939
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse stands 158 feet above the dunes, with a first order fresnel lens flashing its first beacon on December 1, 1875. Located in Corolla, NC, its was built to fill the last remaining dark spot of the NC coast between Bodie Island to the south and Cape Henry, VA to the north. To distinguish it from other regional lighthouses, it was left unpainted in natural red brick.

There are 214 winding steps to get to the top of this red brick lighthouse in Corolla. It was built in 1873 and the beacon reaches 158 into the air. At the top, climbers can catch their breath and take in the outstanding views or read about the history of the lighthouse.

This Currituck Beach Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 daily Easter through Thanksgiving. During the winter months, it is closed for restoration and maintenance. Admission to the grounds is free, as is parking. For ages 8 and up, there is a fee to climb the lighthouse.

The on site gift shop carries a nice selection of books, Outer Banks souvenirs and lighthouses.

The Corolla Wild Horse Museum at The Historic Corolla Schoolhouse
1126 Schoolhouse Lane
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-8002

The Whalehead Club at Currituck Heritage Park
1100 Club Road
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-9040
Built in the mid-1920s, The Whalehead Club continues to stand as one of the most spectacular landmarks on the NC Outer Banks. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A guided tour acquaints you with the history, architecture and folklore of this historic landmark.

Mr. and Mrs. E.C. Knight built their private residence, now known as the Whalehead Club, along the Atlantic flyway to enjoy their passion for waterfowl hunting. The restored museum is the finest representation of art nouveau architecture in the state. An exhibit in the downstairs gallery features the house's original furnishings.

Frisco Historic Sites

Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center
23645 NC Highway 12
Frisco, NC 27936
(252) 995-4440
In Frisco, the Native American history of Hatteras Island and the Native American culture of our nation are preserved. The owners have taken great care to preserve Native American heritage, with their collection of artifacts, exhibits and natural history displays. Galleries include information on Native Americans across the United States, and arts and crafts from around the nation. A dugout canoe, tools, instruments and other items found on the museum property offer a glimpse into the island's former life. The gift shop has a wide variety of Native American-made items and arts and crafts. While you're there, be sure to walk on the nature trails that wind through several acres of forest.

Hatteras Historic Sites

The Hatteras Weather Bureau Station
Saxon Cut Road & Kohler Road
Hatteras, NC 27943
(252) 473-2111
The first US Weather Bureau Station managed by the Army Signal Service's on Hatteras Island was established at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Keeper's Quarter in 1874;was moved to the Hatteras Life Saving Station in 1880 and later transferred to a Hatteras Village private residence in 1883. On July 1, 1891 the US Weather Bureau was established in the Department of Agriculture by the transfer from the Army Signal Corps, meteorological service. In 1901 the first official building was constructed for the United States Weather Bureau on Hatteras Island. The station manned by an observer and a maintenance man was equipped with telegraph communication to the District Forecast Center in Washington, D.C. Hourly checks were made of the temperature, humidity, wind velocity, solar radiation, barometric pressure and precipitation. An important part of the national weather network, the station received information from lifesaving stations, issued coastal forecasts and storm warnings.

This historic site is not open to the public, though you can stop by and view the outside of this unique piece of history.

Kill Devil Hills Historic Sites

Wright Brothers National Memorial
800 Colington Road
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
(252) 441-7430
The first successful sustained powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine were made here by Wilbur and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903. A 60-foot granite monument dedicated in 1932, is perched atop 90-foot tall Kill Devil Hill commemorating the achievement of these two visionaries from Dayton, Ohio.

The Visitor Center features full-scale reproductions of the Wright 1903 Powered Flyer and interpretive presentations. A centennial pavilion boasts an exhibit hall with permanent and special exhibits, including a replica of the 1902 Glider and multipurpose auditorium.

A visit should include touring the museum exhibits, participating in a ranger conducted program, touring the reconstructed camp buildings and first flight trail area, and a climb up Kill Devil Hill to view the memorial pylon.

Manteo Historic Sites

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
1401 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-2111
Three Visitor Centers are located throughout the Outer Banks to provide visitor information about Cape Hatteras National Seashore. For Bodie Island information, call 252-441-5711; for Hatteras Island information, call 252-995-4474; and for Ocracoke Island information, call 252-928-4531. The Visitor Centers can provide information about area activites and attractions, including the Ocracoke Lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
1401 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-5772
This 513 acre park was built in remembrance of the 116 men, women, and children who disappeared here in the first English attempt at colonization of the New World. The settlement was the birthplace of Virginia Dare, first child of English parents born in America before the colony's strange disappearance.

Sir Walter Raleigh's explorers and colonists attempted to found settlements here on the North end of Roanoke Island in 1585. Home to the Waterside Theatre, where you'll find The Lost Colony, a symphonic outdoor drama. You'll also find a visitor's center, interpretive programs, bookstore and nature trail. Location: Off Hwy. 64/264, on the north end of Roanoke Island.

Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - September through May; Daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. - June through August. Admission is free.

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse
207 Queen Elizabeth Avenue
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-2133
The Outer Banks' newest attraction. Dedicated on September 25, 2004, the lighthouse contains exhibits highlighting Roanoke Island's maritime heritage, including a history of the Marshes Lighthouse and its keepers. The original screw-pile lighthouse was located in Croatan Sound on the west side of Roanoke Island. Built in 1877, it was decommissioned by the US Coast Guard in 1955.

The Freedmen's Colony of Roanoke Island
1401 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-5772
The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony is recognized as a historic National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Site. A marker was erected in 2001 to designate the site of a permanent colony on Roanoke Island between 1862 and 1867. Most of its 3,000 residents had been slaves three years earlier in northeastern North Carolina. A path through the woods north of Fort Raleigh leads visitors to a commemorative park along Croatan Sound.

The Lost Colony
1409 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-2127
The Lost Colony (73rd Anniversary Season) offers a compelling drama has something the entire family can enjoy: lavish costumes, daring action, special effects, delightful comedy, music and dance. This is an absolute must-do event providing a uniquely Outer Banks experience.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Green's The Lost Colony recounts the exciting events leading to the disappearance of the English colonists who settled here over 400 years ago. The breathtaking beauty of open-air Waterside Theatre sets the stage for an unforgettable night.

The Lost Colony's production season includes Children's Theatre, Broadway musicals, and other events. Children 11 and under are free on Mon. & Fri. and half price on Sat. with a full-price adult. Attend pre-show Backstage Tours at 7 p.m. on performance nights, reservations required.

Nags Head Historic Sites

Bodie Island Lighthouse
10005 Old Oregon Inlet Road
Nags Head, NC 27959
(252) 441-5711
The Bodie Island Light, encircled by two black and three white bands, stands 150 feet high. Equipped with a first-order Fresnel lens, it flashes its 160,000 candlepower beacon 19 miles over the ocean. Originally built in 1847, the lighthouse was rebuilt with improvements in 1859. The name Bodie was originally spelled Body and is still pronounced body.

Ocracoke Historic Sites

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse
1 Loop Road
Ocracoke, NC 27960
(252) 928-4192
The lighthouse stands 75 feet tall. Its diameter narrows from 25 feet at the base to 12 feet at its peak. The walls are solid brick, 12 feet thick at the bottom tapering to two feet at the top. An octagonal lantern crowns the tower and houses the light beacon. The lighthouse was cemented and whitewashed in 1868, giving it the appearance it has today.

The Ocracoke light is the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina, and the second oldest operating lighthouse in the nation. The lighthouse has a fourth-order Fresnel lens. The lighthouse is not open for climbing, the site can be visited daily.

Rodanthe Historic Sites

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station Historic Site
23645 NC Highway 12
Rodanthe, NC 27968
(252) 987-1552
The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station Historic Site is the most complete U.S. Lifesaving Station site in the nation, with original station built in 1874 and a second station constructed in 1911. Five outbuildings, three water tanks, and one cistern comprise the remaining structures, plus a home built in 1907. Family-oriented programs offered during summer months. Exhibits include artifacts, apparatus, documents, uniforms, photographs, including a display honoring the only all-black crew in American history who served at the Pea Island Lifesaving Station.

The seven buildings of this site, listed on both the National and State Historic Registers, comprise the most complete lifesaving station in the United States. The oldest structure, built in 1874, is under active restoration to its original condition. Visitors can view its Gothic architecture with post and lintel construction, which is seldom seen today. The main station, constructed in 1911 and modified in 1928, has been restored and is used as a museum. A gift shop is also on the premises. The newly acquired 1907 Palmer Midgett House, an example of Hatteras Island architecture, is on-site. It will eventually be restored and opened to the public to help interpret daily life on the Island during that time.

Hours: Monday " Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. beginning April 13 through November 27; Thursday at 2 p.m. the Life-Saving Station presents ''Beach Apparatus Drill'' beginning mid-June - late August. Admission: $6 for adults, $4 for Seniors and Students and FREE for 5 and under. Free Services: Interpretive tours available.

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Hatteras, NC 27943
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