Local News

Steps Stand In the Way of Bodie Island Lighthouse Visitors

Posted August 18, 1999

— If you love lighthouses and have good knees, another beacon on theOuter Bankswill eventually be open for you to climb.

Bodie Island Lighthouse needs three-quarters of a million dollars and lots of time for renovations, but the first step has been taken.

The stone stairs will get you into the Bodie Island Lighthouse but not much farther.

TheCoast Guardcontrolled the lighthouse and did not have a way to deal with visitors.

This summer, the Coast Guard turned the lighthouse over to theNational Park Servicewhich will open it up for visitors in a few years, but the steps still stand in the way.

"They are made out of iron, and the salt air has begun to rust them. Rust weakens metal by eating away at it," said Courtney Daniels of the National Park Service.

"I was 3 years old when my father came here," said John Gaskil.

Gaskil has climbed to the top of the lighthouse as many times as anyone around today.

"It is a good view. You can see the ocean and the sound," said Gaskil.

He is the son of the last keeper of the beacon.

"When I was 13 or 14 years old, my father showed me how to cut the light out in the morning. He would call me, and I would go up and put the light out in the morning," explained Gaskil.

His daybreak duty ended in 1932 when the nightly glow went from a kerosene flame to electric power.

"Nine flights of stairs in the 214 steps," said Gaskil.

He knows the high climb leads to a long life.

"The last keeper here was my father, and he lived to be 95," said Gaskil.

You can expect to climb the stairs in three to five years.

The Coast Guard will maintain the optic of the beacon because it is still a navigational tool.

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