The Town of Buxton


Located at the widest point of the Outer Banks, Buxton is the home of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the world. It is also the most populated town on Hatteras Island.

At Cape Point, the Outer Banks makes an almost 90 degree bend to the west. Extending far out into the Atlantic Ocean, the shoals created by that bend are Diamond Shoals, an infamous and dangerous area of shifting sandbars and treacherous seas. Reaching eight miles offshore, Diamond Shoals has been responsible for 100s if not 1000s of shipwrecks since the first European explorers reached the coast.

Buxton | Outer Banks | VisitOBX

Navigating Buxton

Like all of he towns on Hatteras Island, NC12 is the main road through village and almost all businesses are located along the highway.

The town is four miles south of Avon and three miles north of Hatteras Village.

A small area at the southern end of Buxton is called Frisco. At one time Frisco had its own postoffice, but Buxton and Frisco are now served by the Buxton post office.

A Little History

How Buxton Got Its Name

The United States Postal Service played an outsized role in assigning names to Outer Banks towns and villages, and Buxton was no exception.

In 1873 the Cape post office was established to service Buxton. In 1882 USPS changed the name to Buxton, probably to call attention to the work North Carolina Superior Court Judge Ralph P. Buxton was doing during reconstruction following the Civil War.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Towering 208’ over the Atlantic Ocean, with its distinctive barber pole black and white striping, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse may be the most iconic symbol of the Outer Banks

Completed in 1870, it was third version of a lighthouse to warn ships of Diamond Shoals.

The first lighthouse, initially put into use in 1803 was an abysmal failure. An inspector in 1851 described it as, “…without doubt, the worst light in the world…” pointing out that as he crossed Diamond Shoals a number of times “…I never saw Hatteras light at all…”

Just before the Civil War the tower was raised to 150’ and a first order Fresnel lens was installed. It was an improvement, although it was still considered inadequate.

During the Civil War, Confederate troops, fearing Union forces would attack Hatteras and Ocracoke Inlets to the south, removed the lens and used the tower for observation.

After the Civil War, Congress, recognizing that a better lighthouse was needed, appropriated funds for construction in 1868. When completed in 1870, the lighthouse was the tallest brick structure in the US. It still is.

In 1999, as the ocean came closer and closer to the lighthouse, the National Park Service, who now owns the structure, made the decision to move the lighthouse about a half mile south and 1600’ from the ocean. The move began on June 17 and was completed three weeks later.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse can be climbed from late April through Columbus Day. There is a fee and height restrictions apply. The number of climbers is also limited.