Scenic USA - North Carolina

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - Buxton, North Carolina

Photos by Jack Ryan
Jack's Zenfolio Gallery

     With its unique black and white spiral stripes, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is one of the most recognized lighthouse towers in the United States. It's one of five navigational beacons that mark a hundred mile long ribbon of sand called the Outer Banks. Here at Buxton, visitors discover the Cape Hatteras Light is the tallest lighthouse structure in America, standing 208 feet tall.
     Large island sections of the Outer Banks, nearly covering the entire North Carolina coast, also double as the Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras national seashores. Linked by a narrow paved highway and island hopping ferries, the solitary route passes eight bustling villages and long stretches of isolated beaches and salt marshes. Visitors tour the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse The island chain juts out into the Atlantic at Cape Hatteras and is subject to constant wave action, strong currents and occasional sand-shifting storms. There is no exact border between the sand and sea, as the islands are constantly on the move. Offshore, these same shifting sands and shoals have posed a nightmare for navigators of the seas. Often called the Graveyard of the Atlantic, these treacherous waters have claimed many lives and snagged more than 600 shipwrecks over the last 400 years. Just off the coast at Cape Hatteras, the Diamond Shoals mark a point where two major Atlantic currents collide. Mariners using these inshore currents to speed up their journey ran the risk of running aground on the shoals. The first lighthouse to light up this dangerous coastline was built in 1803, replaced in 1870 with one of the tallest brick lighthouses in the world.
     Because of these ever shifting sands, erosion around the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse brought Atlantic currents dangerously close to the lighthouse. Moving the 138 year old lighthouse to solid ground became a story that made its way into the national news. The rededication ceremony, after the move, also included the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse's designation as a National Landmark.

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