Bodie Island Lighthouse Restoration Funding is Slashed Again
Bodie Island Lighthouse and the National Parks Service were the Pork Ration victims of budget cuts in the 3,565 page $555 billion omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2008 approved on Dec 26, 2007.
The $3 million appropriation, sponsored by Congressman David Price (D-NC) for restoring Bodie Island Light, was axed by a Senate-House conference committee in order to meet the demands of President Bush who approved the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008” (H.R. 2764) with 9,800 earmarks that total more than $10 billion.
The National Parks Service was hoping that the Restoration of Bodie Island Lighthouse would be completed in May 2009, at a cost of $3.8 million in public funds (1). On August 9, 2004, 16 pieces of iron fell 150-feet from the balcony of the Lantern Room. On July 31, 2007, the tower was reopened to partial Public Tours after cables were wrapped around corroding pieces of metal to stabilize the balcony.
Due to the severe rust of the 214 cast-iron step winding staircase, the public is only allowed to see the interior of the Tower from the ground level. To prevent Lighthouse Levitation of the First-order Fresnel lens, John Whitehead has calculated the cost of restoration could be recovered in 10 years if each visitor paid $4.00 to climb the Tower.
Mike Murray, superintendent of the National Parks Service Cape Hatteras Group is working with Washington to include the appropriation for the restoration of the Lighthouse in next year’s budget. Bodie Island Lighthouse actively warns mariners of the turbulent currents and shifting shoals near the coastline of the Outer Banks.
Bodie Island Lighthouse is one of the few historical treasures with the original First-order Fresnel Lens in service! In 1872, the third and current Lighthouse was built on Roanoke Sound between Nag’s Head and Oregon Inlet due to the Civil War and the shifty coastline of the Outer Banks.
The first two “Bodie Island” Lights were built on Pea Island, south of Oregon Inlet, after Lieutenant Napoleon L. Coste recommended to build a Lighthouse 35-miles north of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to help mariners to fix their position when navigating the dangerous coastal waters of Cape Hatteras to avoid the shallow shifting shoals and swift currents.
The current Bodie Island Lighthouse was First Lit on October 1, 1872 exhibiting a Fixed White Light illuminated by a First-order Fresnel lens and Lard oil Lamp 156-feet above sea level visible to a range of 18 nautical miles. The light was converted from a fixed to a flashing light when the lighting apparatus was converted to electricity on Sep 19, 1932. The current Light Characteristic is 2 White Flashes every 30-seconds.
On July 13, 2000, the Tower of Bodie Island Lighthouse was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the National Park Service for preserving the historic landmark. In 2003, the Coast Guard planned to remove and replace the deteriorating Fresnel lens with a modern optic. Fortunately, the National Park Service negotiated a plan to save the historic lens and the U.S. Coast Guard transferred ownership of the Fresnel lens to the National Park Service under the General Services Administration’s federal property disposal process on April 25, 2005.
The 166-feet high Bodie brick tower is painted with 22-feet high white and black horizontal bands. Hopefully, we will be allowed to climb the 214 steps to the Lantern Room for another memorable vantage point to view the scenic Outer Banks after the Tower is restored. Currently, Bodie Island Lighthouse Tours are restricted to viewing the winding staircase.
For more information about Public Tours, please visit Bodie Island Light.
For Map Directions, please visit the Google Map of Bodie Island Lighthouse.
(1) Budgets cuts since 2005 have delayed the restoration and full opening of the Lighthouse. The National Park Service originally hoped to begin reconstruction of the Tower in 2007.
Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Treasure of North Carolina, Oct 16, 2007
Bodie Island Lighthouse Tours, Jul 29, 2007
Related News Story:
Lighthouse seeks a beacon of hope, Feb 24, 2008