02/24/10

Bodie Island restoration project is underway

The Bodie Island Lighthouse, located in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore just north of the Bonner Bridge, is getting a much needed and long awaited facelift.

The $2.8 million project to restore and refurbish the lighthouse got underway late last year and is expected to take about 18 months.

When the restoration is finished, sometime in early 2011, the Park Service is planning to allow the public to climb to the top. Currently, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton is the only lighthouse on the Outer Banks that allows visitors to climb to the top for postcard perfect views.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2001, the United States Coast Guard transferred its ownership to the National Park Service, which maintains the operation of the light as an aid to navigation.

Last year, the Park Service received project funds for restoration of both the Bodie Island Lighthouse and its 1871 first-order Fresnel lens.

The lens was manufactured by Barbier & Fenestre, from Paris, France, in 1871 and is one of the few remaining original lenses of this type. The inside diameter of the lens is 6 feet, 9/16 inches. The light was first exhibited on October 1, 1872 and continues to operate as an active aid to navigation.

The Fresnel lens with its 344 glass prisms has already been removed from the lighthouse for cleaning. The lens will be returned to the 156-foot tower when the restoration is completed.
The metal catadioptric panels that hold the prisms and the metal pedestal that supports the lens will also be cleaned and restored in place.

Winter visitors will notice that the lighthouse is now completely encased in scaffolding in preparation for the tower’s restoration.

The Park Service has a long list of restorations on the agenda including:

  • Strengthening the support of 10 flights of the lighthouse’s spiral staircase and replacement of 21 cracked stair treads.
  • Repainting the lighthouse interior.
  • Replacement and/or repair of windows.
  • Removal of metal pieces of corroded iron from the balcony and lantern room to be recast at a foundry with a mix of the original iron, zinc, and steel.
  • Sandblasting of the rusty metal decking and handrails.
  • Replacing electrical lines, conduit, interior lights, and lightning protection. Installing a fire detection and suppression system.

In the meantime, seasonal visitors will still be allowed on the lighthouse grounds for excellent photo ops, and in the adjacent visitors’ center.

National Park Service announces May Programs

During May, the National Park Service Outer Banks Group will be providing scheduled public programs for the pre-summer season at Wright Brothers National Memorial, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. These spring program schedules will run through May 22.