The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is a 163-foot high lighthouse located on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. It flashes every 15 seconds and is visible at least 12 miles out to sea and up to 19 miles. The Cape Lookout Light is one of the very few lighthouses that operate during the day. It became fully automated in 1950. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the only such structure in the United States to bear the checkered daymark, intended not only for differentiation between similar light towers, but also to show direction. The side points of the black diamonds point in a north-south direction, while the side points of the white diamonds point east-west.

It is the second lighthouse that has stood at this location, and is nearly identical to the Bodie Island Lighthouse modeled after it, which has horizontal stripes. The more famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse bears spiral stripes. The first lighthouse at Cape Lookout was completed and lighted in 1812 at a cost of more than $20,000, which Congress authorized in 1804. It was the fourth lighthouse to be built in North Carolina and was a 96 foot high brick tower painted with red and white horizontal stripes. But it proved to be too short to light the treacherous coast. The present lighthouse was completed in 1859 at a cost of $45,000, which Congress approved in 1857. In 1873, the lighthouse was painted in its distinctive black and white diagonal checkerboard pattern. There are those who believe the Cape Hatteras Light and the Cape Lookout Light paint schemes were reversed. This belief arose since the Cape Hatteras Light protects ships from Diamond Shoals and should therefore have the diamond pattern. Diamond City, a community that once stood on the eastern end of Shackleford Banks, was named after the daymark pattern on the nearby Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The lighthouse is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore and can only be accessed by private ferry. A few times a year, visitors are allowed to climb the 201 spiral iron steps to the top of the lighthouse. During the summer, the Cape Lookout Light Station Visitor Center and Keepers' Quarters are also open. Though tower climbs were suspended in February 2008, the lighthouse opened for climbing permanently July 15, 2010. The regular season will be mid-May through mid-September each year.



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