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Roadside Marvels

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Buxton, North Carolina
Contributed by Rod & Judy Ness of Hermantown, Minnesota

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. Originally built in 1870 it is 208 feet tall and weighs nearly 2800 tons. When it was first constructed it was 1600 feet from the shore, but beach erosion and other environmental factors had by 1987 brought crashing waves to within 120 feet of the base. Significant concern that the next hurricane to strike the Outer Banks area would cause the lighthouse to fall into the sea led to the National Park Service's decision to move the structure half a mile inland to protect it.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Rob & Judy Ness
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

More photos

To undertake the challenging move, the NPS put together a "dream team" of engineering experts. The lighthouse's 800-ton granite base was removed and replaced with steel support towers. The lighthouse itself was then lifted and moved on rollers. In five-foot increments, the tower was moved a total of 2900 feet to its new location. The lighthouse's slow "road trip" began on June 17, 1999, and the final destination was achieved on July 19th. Once again, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is 1600 feet from the ocean, at least for now. Although no longer used as a navigational aid for ships, the lighthouse is open to visitors. Hundreds of people climb up the narrow stairs to the top of the tower every day during the summer season.

Photos of the move

Web cam of the lighthouse

More NPS photos of the lighthouse

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

New coordinates for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse are Latitude 35° 15' 01.92560" North and Longitude 75° 31' 43.74342" West. The original site coordinates for the lighthouse were Latitude 35° 15' 18.6" North and Longitude 75° 31' 10.5" West.

1401 National Park Dr
Manteo, NC 27954

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Rob & Judy Ness

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Rob & Judy Ness

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Rob & Judy Ness

Photographed by Rod Ness 2/4/08
Posted on RoadTrip America 5/08

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