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The Okracoke Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse still operating on the North Carolina coast. Located in the small fishing village of Ocracoke, halfway between the Cape Hatteras Light and the Cape Lookout Light along the Outer Banks, it was built in 1823. The lighthouse and its location have an interesting history.

The first Okracoke Lighthouse replaced the light previously built in 1798 that was located on Shell Castle Island just inside the entrance to Ocracoke Inlet where the notorious pirate Blackbeard once lived. Later, the Okracoke Lighthouse was destroyed by lightning and was replaced with the current tower. The original fourth-order lens was destroyed by the Confederates during the Civil War, as were most lighthouses in the area. However, the lens that replaced it in 1864 is still used today.

The lighthouse watches over Silver Lake as well as the sleepy town of Ocracoke. The island is accessible from mainland North Carolina by a 2-hour ferry, or from Hatteras Island to the north via the half-hour free ferry. You can tour around the outside area of the light, but since it is still operational, you cannot enter the lighthouse itself. Another interesting attraction to some is the old graveyard located behind the lighthouse; although you are discouraged from doing so, you can walk behind the lighthouse and see it.