When originally commissioned in May of 1958, the beacon of the Oak island Lighthouse was the brightest in the USA and the second brightest in the entire world. Its mercury vapor lamps shone with 70,000,000 candlepower. In 1962, the light source was changed to the much less expensive 1000 watt incandescent bulbs but the light can still be seen from as much as 24 miles out at sea.
This was one of the last lighthouses built in the United States and has several unique construction features.
1. Unlike most lighthouses, Oak Island does not taper from bottom to top, which is related to a unique construction technique which is anticipated to give the structure a longer life. It was built with a "continuous pour" technique which meant that once the initial forms for the base of the lighthouse were in place and the pouring started, the forms had to be moved steadily upward and concrete continuously poured until the 128' cylinder was completed. This took about seven days and resulted in no joints, nor cracks, anywhere in the structure.
2. Colors were mixed into the concrete during construction so the building will never require painting.
3. Rather than a spiral staircase, access to the light is via a series of switchback ladders and supplies are moved to the top via a motorized hoist.
4. The walls are a constant 8" thick.
5. The entire structure is anchored by 24 10"x 67' hollow steel pipes which were filled with concrete during construction.
The lighthouse actually stands in the town of Caswell Beach overlooking the mouth of the cape Fear River and warning sailors of the very treacherous Frying Pan Shoals, the site of literally hundreds of shipwrecks since the beginning of European exploration. Today, the Town of Caswell Beach owns the lighthouse while the US Coast Guard maintains and the light and beacon mechanism and FOIL (Friends of Oak Island Lighthouse) maintains the building and grounds.
Tours of the lighthouse are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer between 10AM and 2 PM.
The Sprunts added wings to the house making it a near-perfect example of Southern ante-bellum architecture. In 1910 they began the development of a modest flower garden and in 1915 built Luola's Chapel for family services.
In the beginning the garden consisted of imported camellias, azaleas, banana shrubs and other ornamentals and bulbs popular at that time. They also planted avenues of live oak trees and constructed terraces which overlooked the old ricefields and river
Orton Plantation, situated on the Cape Fear River was built c. 1725, and was the home of Roger Moore, who along with his family and friends founded the town of Brunswick. The original home was one and a half stories and constructed of brick.
In 1840 Dr. Frederick Jones Hill, a later owner, added a second story and four fluted Doric columns. Through several ownerships, Orton Plantation became a leading rice plantation known for the superiority of its grain.
In 1865, following the fall of Confederate Fort Fisher, Orton was occupied by Union forces who used it as a hospital, sparing it from the fate suffered by many fine homes in the South.
Col. Kenneth McKenzie Murchison CSA purchased Orton in 1884, restored it and used it as his winter home. Col. Murchison was the great-grandfather of the present owners. He died in 1904 leaving Orton to his daughter Luola, & son-in-law James Sprunt LLD
By far the best seafood I've ever had and I've had a lot in my years visiting coastal NC. The price is reasonable and the servings are big. The hushpuppies were great, the shrimp and flounder were huge, and the waitress very friendly and helpful in spite of the crowd. They also had a great wine selection.
Favorite Dish: Fried shrimp and fried flounder! Big, juicy shrimp. Thick, meaty flounder. Fried but not greasy or heavy.
I love watching the dolphins swim by. We usually see them following the fishing boats - since they're feeding then, you can only see their fins breaking the surface.
This year (Spring 2002) we had a real treat. There was a school of 4-5 dolphins that decided to play. We actually saw them jumping straight into the air and leaping over each other. It was an awesome sight! (Unfortunately it's pretty much impossible to be fast enough to catch them with a still camera, but I keep trying!)