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Currituck County Photographs

 Currituck Beach Lighthouse & Keepers Quarters

     As it had reported in previous years, the U.S. Light-House Board in 1872 states that ships, cargoes and lives continued to be lost along the 40 miles of dark coastline that lay beyond the reaches of existing lighthouse.  Southbound ships sailing closer to shore to avoid the Gulf Stream were especially in danger.  In response, construction began on the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in 1873 with completion two years later.
     The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is known as a first order lighthouse, which means it has the largest of seven Fresnel lens sizes.  The original source of light was a U.S. mineral oil lamp consisting of five concentric wicks; the largest was 4" in diameter.
     Before the advent of electricity, a mechanical means was required to rotate the huge lenses that made the light appear to flash.  A system of wrights suspended from a line powered a clockwork mechanism beneath the lantern--much like the working of a grandfather clock.  The keeper cranked the weights up by hand every two and a half hours.
     Like other lighthouses on North Carolina's Outer Banks, this one still serves as an aid to navigation.  The beacon comes on automatically every evening at dusk and ceases at dawn.  With a 20-second flash cycle (on for 3 seconds, off for 17 seconds), the light can be seen for 18 nautical miles.  The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners but also to help identify their locations.
     The Currituck Beach Lighthouse was the last major brick lighthouse built on the Outer Banks.

For more information & photos you may wish to visit the following site:

Special thanks to Gloria Faye Bateman Roberts for this photograph.

Currituck Beach Light Station--Southwest View with Families
H. Bamber (historical photo)
June 12, 1893 - negative obtained from the National Archives

Uniformed keepers and their families pose on the steps of their homes--on both sides of the duplex Keepers' House. Each family had its own dining room, kitchen, and parlor on the first floor, three bedrooms on the second floor, and a finished attic. High ceilings and transoms over interior doorways allowed for maximum circulation throughout the building.

A special thanks to Ben Bateman and Judy Brickhouse for these new color photographs and also to the Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc. for the information and drawing of the lighthouse.  No part of this document may be used for any commercial purposes. However, please feel free to copy any of this material for your own personal use and family research.