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On one side of North Carolina’s Bald Head Island, the Cape Fear River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. On the other, treacherous sand bars known as the Frying Pan Shoals stretch to the south for about 30 miles into the ocean. The island’s first lighthouse was established in 1794. The original lighthouse was soon threatened by erosion, and it was discontinued in 1813. A new 110-foot-tall lighthouse was completed in 1817, but it was soon realized that it wasn’t bright or tall enough to guide vessels past the dangerous shoals. A new lighthouse, known as the Cape Fear Light, was built on the island in 1903 to help mariners negotiate the Frying Pan Shoals. Cape Fear Lighthouse has since been demolished but Old Baldy remains standing as the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina.
The Old Baldy Foundation is a nonprofit organization established for the preservation of Bald Head Lighthouse, best known as Old Baldy. Abby Overton has been the development and communications coordinator for the Old Baldy Foundation since 2017. She has led fundraising efforts and planned many special events, developed a membership program, created and edited a monthly newsletter, designed the organization’s promotional materials, among many other accomplishments.
Old Baldy Foundation educator and historian Hunter Ingram came to the Cape Fear region to write about local history and the North Carolina film industry for the Wilmington StarNews. Hunter is a devoted storyteller and lifelong lover of history who is excited about sharing the centuries of stories that define Old Baldy and Bald Head Island.
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Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org