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BODIE ISLAND, N.C. (AP) -- The Bodie Island lighthouse on North Carolina's Outer Banks is about to open to the public.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the lighthouse will open April 19 after a three-year, $5 million restoration.

Until now, only lighthouse keepers, family members and a few others have been allowed to climb the 214 steps, or 156 feet, to the top.

Bruce Roberts of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society says the opening is attracting national attention from lighthouse enthusiasts. The tower was built in 1872 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The lighthouse is one of the few that still has its original first order Fresnel lens, an encasement of prisms more than 6 feet in diameter that magnifies and sends the light toward the sea.

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com

AP-WF-03-31-13 1956GMT

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