Original Limited Edition Serigraph
The Serigraph, BODIE LIGHT hung in the office of Etienne Riffault, Chef de la Section Etudes et Recherches, Bureau de L’Armrment, Ministere de L’Interieur, Paris, France.
Popular folklore says that the island got its name because of the many bodies that were found around it, washed up from shipwrecks
The inside plaque reads “Body Island” – no one is certain on the spelling change
Powered By SmugWPThe brick lighthouse with alternating stripes of white and black that we see today is not the original lighthouse on Bodie Island. There were actually two lighthouses that came before it. Because Oregon Inlet continually shifts southward, the remains of the two original lighthouses have since been washed away.
The first lighthouse rested on fifteen acres of land that the federal government purchased for $150 in 1846. It was built in 1848 and stood only fifty-four (54) feet tall and measured seventeen feet around the widest part of its base. Close to the tower was a five-room house for the keeper, as well as a large brick cistern and two outbuildings. The original lighthouse was positioned just south of Oregon Inlet and was supposed to have a visibility of twelve miles. However, there were problems with the light from the beginning. Over $2,300 had to be allocated in addition to the $8,700 originally allocated, to install a lighting apparatus. The light consisted of a ten-foot lantern with fourteen individual revolving lamps and parabolic reflectors. In addition to the lighting problems, structural shortcomings prevented the light mechanism from ever working properly. The poorly constructed foundation also started developing cracks and leaks. Eventually it settled off-center and began to sink. The decision was made to rebuild the lighthouse and not try to attempt repairing the original. You might ask why a tower could be built so poorly. At the time, the Fifth District Auditor of Treasury, the approver of all lighthouse expenditures, was Stephen Pleasonton. Auditor Pleasonton was very careful about spending money on lighthouse projects. First, he did not budget enough money for a proper foundation. Second, he was more concerned about saving money than understanding the technical aspects of lighthouses. The cheaper lighting system that was approved for the original Bodie light was inferior to the Fresnel system which was the premiere provider of beacon lenses.
Only eleven years after the original Bodie Island Lighthouse was built, another tower was completed. At this time, Stephen Pleasonton was no longer Auditor, so the new lighthouse was designed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The new lighthouse was eighty feet tall with white-washed brick. It was equipped with a 3rd-order Fresnel lens, which flashed every ninety seconds and could be seen for fifteen miles. Two years after the lighthouse went into service, the Civil War started. As the Confederates lost hold on the Outer Banks, they retreated. To prevent the Union soldiers from using the lighthouse to their advantage, the Confederates blew it up.
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Because of the islands location, another Bodie Island Lighthouse had to be built. In 1872, the federal government allotted $140,000 to build a lighthouse, keepers accommodations, and several outbuildings. The third and current lighthouse was constructed shortly after funds were allocated. It was supervised by Dexter Stetson, who supervised the construction of Cape Hatteras. He used many of the same construction techniques that made the Hatteras lighthouse so strong. The method of “Stacking” was used where timber pilings below the ground were placed and granite blocks were built above the base. After the construction of Hatteras, there were many unused materials. Many of these were used during the construction of Bodie Island Lighthouse. Bodie lighthouse is situated one half mile from the ocean just north of Oregon Inlet. It houses a 1st-order Fresnel lens, which can be seen for nineteen miles out. The 150-foot lighthouse was originally equipped with a fixed light illuminated by a vapor lamp. When electricity replaced oil in the early 1930’s, the steady beam was replaced by a flashing light. The shed that once held the kerosene oil was replaced by a generator, but it still has the smell of kerosene after all those years. In the 1950’s, the lighting system, was again replaced by a 160,000 candlepower beam.
Bodie Lighthouse stands 156 feet tall with 214 stairs to the lantern.
The height of each black and white stripe is 22 feet.