• Ocean waters of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

    Cape Hatteras

    National Seashore North Carolina

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The Light Station

Q. What is a light station?
A light station has several buildings on the grounds, including a lighthouse or tower. In some locations, there is only a lighthouse, in which the keeper both lived and worked. However, the larger lights, in particular, tended to be part of a light station. At Cape Hatteras, the light station is currently made up of the lighthouse, oil house, Principal Keeper’s Quarters, Double Keepers’ Quarters, and cisterns. In the past, other buildings such as kitchens, privies and sheds were also part of the light station.

Q. What are the surrounding structures?
The small red brick building was the oil house built in 1892, where the flammable fuel was kept, and later, an emergency generator. Originally, surrounding the lighthouse was a wrought iron fence supported by granite footing, built to prevent livestock from causing erosion at the base of the tower - the white plastic fence is a recent Park Service addition. (In the interim there were two other fences). The smaller white house, once painted pink (the “pink house” to many older residents) was the Principal Keeper’s Quarters where he lived with his family. The larger building or Double Keepers’ Quarters was built in 1854 as a duplex, to serve a keeper and an assistant. When it was determined that the station needed more help, the Principal Keeper’s Quarters was built and the Double Keepers’ Quarters housed the assistants. The large square structures near the houses are the cisterns.

Did You Know?

Ocracoke Inlet was one of the most heavily traveled inlets in the 1700s.

In the 1700s, Ocracoke Inlet was one of the busiest inlets in the East. It was one of the few navigable waterways for ships accessing inland ports such as Elizabeth City, Edenton or New Bern. It was here that Blackbeard the pirate found the inlet's heavy shipping traffic ripe for easy pickings.