Old Baldy is the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina. It has maintained its original form and location for over 187 years. The most important purpose of Old Baldy was to mark the Cape Fear River entrance for the maritime sailors. It was never intended as a light for Frying Pan Shoals. Old Baldy was built in 1817 of soft red bricks covered with stucco. In the early days the lighthouse keeper would white wash Old Baldy every two years. When Old Baldy was deactivated in 1935 the lighthouse was abandoned. The white wash protected the stucco. When it was discontinued large pieces of the stucco began to fall off the lighthouse. Occasionally someone would come along and patch the lighthouse with new stucco; however, they did not use the same stucco as was used in 1817. In 1817 Old Baldy was completely white. Today Old Baldy looks like a patch work quilt of different stuccos.
Bald Head Island, historically Smith Island, is a village located on the east side of the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County, North Carolina, United States.
Compared to the city of Wilmington to the north, the village of Bald Head Island is small and somewhat remote. It is only accessible by ferry from the nearby town of Southport.
In just 20 minutes, the Bald Head Island Transportation, Inc. passenger ferry transports you from Deep Point Marina in Southport, NC, to the shores of Bald Head Island.
As the ferry approaches the island you can see Old Baldy in the distance.
A walkway leads up to the lighthouse where you can take a tour up to the top of the lighthouse.
Old Baldy is one of the oldest lighthouses that has 108 wooden steps leading to the top.
The view is amazing once you reach the top of the lighthouse and look out to the island.
Today, Old Baldy Lighthouse and the adjacent reconstructed keeper’s cottage are open to the public. Throughout the year, you can take a ferry to Bald Head Island, and then climb to the top of Old Baldy. Every year during the first weekend in August, Pirates invade the island and Old Baldy in celebration of National Lighthouse Day.