Fodor's Expert Review Ocracoke Light Station
Built in 1823, Ocracoke's 77-foot tower is the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the United States. (Sandy Hook, New Jersey, has the oldest.) It was first fueled by whale oil, then kerosene, and finally electricity. The lighthouse is built entirely of brick, 5 feet thick at the base and 2 feet thick at the top, with a white finish once achieved with a blend of unslaked lime, glue, rice, salt, and powdered fish. Although it's not open to the public for climbing, the grounds are accessible year-round.