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    Cape Hatteras

    National Seashore North Carolina

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Cape Hatteras Light Station FAQs

 

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Timeline

1794
First Tower is authorized by Congress.

1803
First tower is completed. It stood 90 feet tall, was build of sandstone, and used oil lamps to light the beacon.

1854
Modifications included raising tower to 150 ft. and installing a new first order Fresnel lens that utilized prisms and focusing lenses to concentrate the light from an oil fired flame into a powerful beacon.

1861
Confederate forces try to destroy the tower, but were prevented by the Union forces. Confederates take the Fresnel lens with them.

1862
Light shines again but extensive repairs needed and studies show it would be less costly to replace the tower with a new tower.

1867
$75,000.00 appropriated by Congress for a new lighthouse. Final cost $167.500.00

1868
Construction begins

1870
Construction completed. The first order Fresnel lens from the 1803 lighthouse is transferred to the new tower.

1873
Black and white daymark striping ordered by the Lighthouse Board.

1893
1400 to 1500 feet from shoreline

1894
1500 feet from shoreline

1913
Illuminant changed to incandescent oil vapor lamps

1919
Less than 300 feet from shoreline

1930
First groins installed

1933
Less than 100 feet from shoreline, more groins installed

1934
Lamps electrified

1935
Erosion threatened base of the tower as waves washed against it. Lighthouse abandoned and replaced by skeleton steel structure a mile NW of the brick tower.

1936
Ownership transferred to NPS control. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began building sand dunes along the Outer Banks to aid in erosion control.

1939
CCC guides give tours of lighthouse.

1942-45
Leased to Coast Guard for use as observation tower during WWII.

1945
500 to 900 feet from shoreline

1946
Fresnel lens apparatus vandalized.

1949
Fresnel lens removed from the tower but the pedestal and clockwork were left in place.

1950
Eroded sand stopped naturally and control work by CCC made it possible to transfer beacon back to the brick tower.

1950-51
N.C. Highway 12 constructed with ferry service at Oregon Inlet.

1953
Cape Hatteras National Seashore established. Lighthouse opened to the public.

1960
Unknown quantities of sand pumped onto the shoreline.

1972
Present 800,000 candlepower beacon installed consisting of a rotary beacon with two 1000 watt lamps. Flashes every 7.5 seconds.

1975
175 feet from shoreline. Structural cracks in tower led to its closing to the public.

1980
50 to 70 feet from shoreline

1981
Experimental artificial sea grass is placed on shoreline. "Save the Lighthouse Committee" formed by U.S. Senator Helms, Governor Hunt of North Carolina and others.

1984-93
A 40 pound chunk of metal window trim fell to the ground. Lighthouse closed to public.

1987
NPS requests independent study to save the lighthouse.

1988
Independent study recommends relocation. 1989 NPS announced decision to move lighthouse when risk of leaving it outweighed the risk of moving it.

1990
Restoration of tower begins.

1993
Repairs completed and lighthouse again opens to the public.

1994
Exterior repainting completed. NPS superintendent declares risk of leaving lighthouse outweighs risk of moving it.

1997
Report released endorsing immediate relocation.

1999
March-Oil house, 2 cisterns, double keepers' quarters and principal keeper's quarters moved to new site. The lighthouse was moved 2900 ft in 23 days. It was moved 1500 ft back from the ocean.

2000
Lighthouse was again open for climbing.

2001
Lighthouse was closed on June 11th to the public due to stairs needing repairs.

2002
Painted in December

2003
On April 18th, lighthouse reopened to the public.

2006
The pedestal and clockwork are removed form the tower, reunited with the lens, and put on display at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, NC, which is 10 mile southwest of the lighthouse.

Did You Know?

Sand Dunes at Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, established in 1953, was our nation's first national seashore. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. More...