The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was authorized by US Congress on May 13,1794.
It was originally 90 feet tall and built in an octagonal shape. The stone
foundation sunk 13 feet below the water table and on top was a 10 foot high
oil lantern covered by a 5 foot 9 inch dome. When completed in 1802, the
total height was 120 feet!
In 1806, William , the keeper, complained that it was an eyesore, it had
cracks, and the glass kept on breaking. In 1852, Captain C.R. Mumford
said,"It's a disgrace to our country."
Congress gave $15,000 for a new lens and it was completed in 1854.
Later on, the Civil War destroyed it. In order to repair it, a temporary
lens was installed in 1852. In 1863, a new light was finally installed.
After the war, there was some concern about the wooden stairs being a fire
hazard. It took $20,000 to install new iron stairs. Then, Congress decided
to build a new lighthouse.
The new lighthouse's construction began in November of 1868. It was 180
feet tall and made of brick. By the end of the year, houses, a blacksmith
shop, and wharves were built around the lighthouse. The new site was 600
feet northeast of the old one. The new lighthouse's new height was a total
of 208 feet and 268 steps.
It was first illuminated on December 16,1870. Shortly after, the old tower
was blown up. The new tower was struck by lightning in 1879 and cracks
began to appear. There was a metal rod installed and there were no further
The new lighthouse was painted black and white spiral. It has a 30 inch
duplex rotating beacon. The light is visible 20 miles in clear weather,
however, it was once spotted 51 miles out from sea.
In 1999, the lighthouse was moved because of the danger of the eroding
shoreline. The move took a four weeks, but finally the lighthouse was set in
its new position about 2,900 feet away from the shoreline. The lighthouse
was the largest building ever moved in history. It was dubbed as
"The Move of the Century." The lighthouse reopened during a relighting
ceremony held on Memorial Day 2000.
Location: Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
North of Cape Hatteras Point.
Built: 1803, 1853, 1870
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