The Crystal Coast: Old Baldy

Old Baldy. The title of this post might be a teensy bit misleading, if you think I’m referring to some aged long lost relative under certain circumstances you might be right. In this case though, not.

 

closesignBuilt in 1817, the Bald Head Island Lighthouse affectionately known as “Old Baldy” has been standing guard over the mouth of the Cape Fear River for over 187 years. lightin bw

When you step off the ferry on to Bald Head Island it is hard to imagine the beautifully manicured and maintained resort island could be home to the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina. Originally known as Smith Island ( after a wealthy Charleston merchant), this gorgeous little barrier island as long been a destination for Native Americans, fishermen, explorers and pirates. The most famous among them being the infamous Stede Bonnet.  Now days, Bald Head Island is more vacationer’s paradise than pirate’s playground; but none the less once you know the history of this tiny little island it is easy to see all of it’s uniquely hidden secrets.

stairwaytoheaven_1Old Baldy despite it’s age was not the first light to stand on the island. The original light, completed in 1795 on the island’s South West point. Erosion quickly threatened the site and after only a few short years the light was torn down, and the new and still standing Old Baldy was given life. Constructed from soft red bricks, many of which were salvaged from the original light station. In it’s time as a working light station Old Baldy required constant upkeep from the elements; the 110 ft tower was once completely white. When the light was decommissioned in 1935, it was left to ruin. On occasion the caring good citizen would “patch” the old tower’s stucco and add small bits of white here and there, thus giving “Old Baldy” the patchwork look it now enjoys today. In 1988 the historic light was relit, but does not serve as a navigational aide.

darkdoorwayToday Old Baldy stands watch over the island as a reminder of it’s rich history, and those who have come and gone before. Some say the old light is haunted. Numerous reports of ghost sightings are reported every year. And although during my visit I didn’t encounter anything other worldly, it is easy to imagine lost souls wandering the grounds of this beautiful place.

With so much history, beauty, and vibrance. Bald Head Island, is a place that must be seen to be believed. A short ferry ride from South Port, NC will get you to this “car free” island paradise. Stay a day, stay a week. Either way go. You won’t regret it.

brick2_1For more information about the Bald Head Island Lighthouse visit click here.