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10 of the South’s Most Historic Lighthouses

Across the United States, there are dozens of lighthouses that have stood the test of time, with many still ensuring the safety of ships and sailors alike almost every single day, no matter the weather. 

In the South, there are numerous old, beautiful and still functional lighthouses that are a must-see for any visitors to the region. Here is a list of some of the most beautiful lighthouses in the US that are located in the Southern states.

Ponce de Leon Lighthouse

Found in Florida, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the state. Constructed in 1835, the lighthouse fell into disrepair over the years due to not being needed. However, it was restored to its former glory in 1982. 

A few years later, in 1998, it was named a National Historic Landmark, making it one of only 11 lighthouses in the U.S. to earn this title. 

Loggerhead Lighthouse

Also known as the Dry Tortugas Light and also found in Florida, the Loggerhead Lighthouse was first built in 1858 but ceased operation in 2015. While still disputed by some, it is said to be the greatest distance from the mainland compared to any other lighthouse in the world. 

The Loggerhead Lighthouse and the Garden Key Lighthouse were the only two to remain fully operational on the Gulf Coast during the American Civil War, guiding many ships to safety when they needed it most. 

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Found on Bodie Island in North Carolina, Bodie Island Lighthouse has had three iterations over the years. Standing at 170 feet tall, the structure is one of only a dozen tall, brick tower lighthouses in the United States. 

Not only that, but the Bodie Island Lighthouse still has and operates its first-order Fresnel Lens, a feat almost unheard of for a lighthouse this old. 

Tybee Lighthouse

Tybee Lighthouse on Georgia’s Tybee Island is one of the oldest lighthouses in the country. Constructed in 1736, it is one of the last remaining colonial-era lighthouses, although it has seen numerous repairs and upgrades over the decades. 

In the early 2000s, the lighthouse was repainted in its traditional black and white daymark paint job that was used between 1916 and 1966. 

Credit: Coastal Mississippi

Biloxi Lighthouse

The Biloxi Lighthouse can be found adjacent to the Mississippi Sound of the Gulf of Mexico. First lit in 1848, Biloxi‘s lighthouse has been kept by female lighthouse keepers longer than any other lighthouse in the U.S. 

This lighthouse has seen several repairs and renovations, primarily due to hurricanes, with the most recent one being Hurricane Katrina.   

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Found in Corolla, North Carolina, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse was built in 1875 and stands almost 170 feet tall. It was also one of the last brick lighthouses built in the Outer Banks area and still stands today. 

The lighthouse has been restored over the years, as well as the keeper’s house that is found in the compound. Visitors can climb the lighthouse for most of the year, with the house acting as a museum and gift shop.

Credit: Outer Banks Visitors Bureau/outerbanks.org

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Another North Carolina landmark is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. First lit in 1871, it serves the Outer Banks barrier islands on the state’s coast. The almost 200-foot-tall structure has been a lifesaver for sailors in the area for decades. 

It protects an area known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” because it is placed right near where the Gulf Stream and Labrador Current collide. This collision causes extreme and unpredictable weather conditions that have sunk many ships over the years.  

Cockspur Island Lighthouse

Having the unfortunate title of being the smallest lighthouse in Georgia, the Cockspur Island Lighthouse had one of the shortest operational periods compared to others on this list. Constructed between 1837 and 1839, it ceased operation in 1909. 

However, it was relit in 2007 for historical purposes, as it is now too small to be used effectively for navigation around Cockspur Island in Georgia. 

Cape Henry Lighthouses

The Cape Henry Lighthouses are a pair of lighthouses that stand guard at the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. The original lighthouse was the first one authorized by the U.S. government and dates back to 1792. 

The second lighthouse was constructed almost 100 years later due to fears that the first was structurally unstable; surprisingly, both are still standing today. 

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