Take a step back in time and discover the stories behind North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse with a visit to the Smith Island Museum of History. Located in a replica of an 1850’s lighthouse keeper’s cottage, and featuring a modest-sized but varied wealth of local facts and legends, this small museum paints a vibrant portrait of Bald Head Island, past and present, which enriches any trip to the “Old Baldy” Lighthouse.

The Smith Island Museum of History is hard to get to for day-trippers, and vacationers will need to take a ferry to Bald Head Island, and then walk, bike, or cruise a golf cart over to the site of the “Old Baldy” lighthouse to start exploring. Inside, however, visitors will garner a rich and detailed account on what life was like for the mid-1800s keepers, as well as learn about Bald Head Island’s long history, which dates all the way back to the 1500s when this small coastal region first landed on a European map. When combined with a tour of the adjacent lighthouse, or of the island itself, visitors will enjoy a rich slice of Cape Fear regional history that is seldom discovered, but is no less fascinating for newcomers and long-time island fans alike. 

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