My first thought when I saw this from SR 12 was that someone had moved the light and replaced it with some strange structure. A new building? A water tower of some kind? A new NASA launch facility? (Well, it looks kind of like one of those old gantry towers, doesn’t it?) What the hell was it? Then, as we drove up the access road, it became clear. The Bodie Island Light was still there and being renovated.
Definitely some mixed emotions on that. The old light definitely needed some work. I’m pretty sure that there has never been any major work done on this light since it was built in the middle of the 19th century. Parts of it were beginning to crumble. It’s not nearly as famous as its cousin to the south (the Cape Hatteras Light), so it doesn’t receive the same kind of attention. So the repairs are a good thing. But I was looking forward to seeing it again in its “natural” form. Supposedly, it will reopen to the public in April, 2011. Only time will tell if we ever make it down here again.
While the light was still functional, it no longer used the original first order fresnel lens. I’ve heard that this lens will be removed during the restoration and housed in a museum. Fresnel lenses (named after the inventor) are fascinating pieces of optics. They dramatically improved the capabilities of lighthouses like this one, thus saving countless lives.
Surprisingly, humans are sometimes capable of doing really good things. Go figure.