Rise and Shine! The sun is out and the weather couldn’t be more beautiful. Today we continue our exploration of the Outer Banks. The lighthouse wasn’t open just yet so we checked out of the motel and headed south to the town of Hatteras. It’s the furthest point you can drive, from here you take a ferry over to Ocracoke. There is a lighthouse here and I was sad that we were going to miss it. The boys and I stopped at a café, grabbed a few lattes, a smoothie, a few breakfast pastries and headed back to visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Here’s a little more history about the lighthouses from the OBX. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast. Offshore of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada. This current forces southbound ships into a dangerous twelve-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals. Hundreds and possibly thousands of shipwrecks in this area have given it the reputation as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. The lighthouse is 210 foot height makes it the tallest brick lighthouse structure in the United States and 29th in the world. The National Park Service acquired ownership of the lighthouse when it was abandoned in 1935. In 1950, when the structure was again found safe for use, new lighting equipment was installed. Now the Coast Guard owns and operates the navigational equipment, while the National Park Service maintains the tower as a historic structure. 1,250,000 bricks were used in construction of the lighthouse and it is 248 steps to the top.
In 1999, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse had to be moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,870 feet (870 m) inland. Due to erosion of the shore, the lighthouse was just 120 feet from the ocean’s edge and was in imminent danger. The Cape Hatteras Light House Station Relocation Project became known as “The Move of the Millennium.” It is the tallest masonry structure ever moved (200 feet tall and weighing 5,000 tons). The boys and I walked out to the original location, it was very close to the water and the Park Ranger told us that the lighthouse would not have survived Hurricane Sandy.