When you think about North Carolina lighthouses, one comes to mind for many, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. The iconic structure towers over the landscape at 200 feet, making it the tallest lighthouse in North America and the second tallest brick light tower in the world. To get to the top, you’ll have to climb 257 steps, the same as going up a 12 story building. This light station has been an important one for mariners since 1802.
Michael Farago, a park ranger with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore explains:
“We’ve lost anywhere from 500 to as many as 2000 ships off our shores here so that was the need and why the government built this lighthouse here to basically warn mariners not to get too close to our shores.”
The current tower was completed in 1870, but it hasn’t always set in its current location. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse’s other claim to fame is being the largest structure to be moved. It was moved about 2900 feet from the oceanfront to its current location here in 1999. It took 23 days for that process to be completed.
And moving something so old and so massive was no easy task. So, how’d they do it?
“What they were able to do was take a diamond tipped cable saw and slice in between the fourth and fifth layers. The hydraulic jacks then lifted it, where a temporary base was constructed. And to put it into perspective, basically once it was on that base, they essentially pushed it, slowly but surely” said Farago.
In addition to surviving the big move, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse has weathered countless hurricanes.
“The name given out here to Cape Hatteras really is hurricane alley. That is because we are so close to the Gulf Stream. We do know that water levels for the lighthouse have essentially gone up almost well past the stairway there into the doorway” explained Farago.
And was a beacon during war.
“During World War II this was a spot definitely. There were people up on top of the balcony and they were surveying the grounds looking for German U-boats as they hunted off the coast.”
And speaking of being a spot, who could imagine a better one to pop the question. That’s exact what ran through Jason Moore’s mind as he got down on one knee.
“Our first date, we were set up on a blind date and one of the things that kind of hit off immediately was our interest in North Carolina history. So when I was thinking about places, this kinda came to mind” explained Moore.
It was an incredible moment for this newly engaged couple.
“I was hoping not to drop the ring off the top of the lighthouse and then not fall off the lighthouse being so nervous to ask her to marry me” said Moore. His new fiance Cole Taylor added:
“He said some really nice things to me and I was just really thinking about what we’re gonna have together and how confident I feel in it.”
The Cape Hatteras lighthouse has stood the test of time. Hopefully decades from now, the same can be said for this pair.