Monday, October 5, 2009

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Part 10.

Click to enlarge and read. The is Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in the nation and a most famous symbol of North Carolina. About 208 feet tall, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was constructed from approximately 1,250,000 bricks baked in kilns along the James River in Virginia and brought in scows to Cape Creek where they were hauled by oxen one mile to the building site, between 1868 to 1879. The lighthouse is 210 feet above sea level. There are 268 steps up to reach the light. The brightness is 800 kilocandelas from each of 2 1000-watt lamps. Every 7.5 seconds, a short flash is produced which is visible from 20 nautical miles in clear conditions, and in exceptional conditions, it has been seen from 51 miles.
As you can see, the National Park Service permits climbing to the top of the lighthouse.
Congress appropriated $44,000 on July 10, 1797, "for erecting a lighthouse on the head land of Cape Hatteras and a lighted beacon on Shell Castle Island, in the harbor of Ocracoke in the State of North Carolina." Cape Hatteras Lighthouse cost $14,302 to build and the Shell Castle Island Lighthouse in Ocracoke was built from part of the surplus. Both were completed in 1803. I can't figure out the math here. The Ocracoke light went in for $11,000 and change. Where's the rest of the $44,000? And I found sites that said this: Towering 196 feet from the base to the top brick and then topped with an iron superstructure it become the tallest brick lighthouse on the American coast at 208 feet and at a cost of $155,000.00. and this: The light at the top is automated and is visible every 7.5 seconds. In good visibility conditions, the beacon can often be seen for 20 miles (32 km) out at sea, although its official range is 24 miles (39 km) under optimal conditions. Over 1 million bricks were used in the construction of the structure, which was built between 1868 to 1870 at a cost (then) of $167,500. I can't do the math. And now my head is hurting. It really doesn't add up.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse marks the very dangerous Diamond Shoals which extend from the cape for a distance of 10+ nautical miles. Cape Hatteras is the point that protrudes the farthest to the southeast along the northeast to southwest line of precarious barrier islands called the Outer Banks. Note the lighter colors in the ocean. Those would be shoals. Sand bars. Shallow waters. Two major Atlantic currents collide off Cape Hatteras - the northerly flowing warm water Florida Current, also known as the Gulf Stream, and the southerly flowing cold water Labrador Current. These two currents create quite turbulent waters and a large expanse of shallow sandbars, known as Diamond Shoals, extending out to 14 miles offshore. Many ships venture close to Cape Hatteras when traveling the eastern seaboard because mariners utilize the ocean currents to speed their journey, risking the perils of sailing close to the shoals amidst turbulent water and frequent storms. So many ships have been lost off Cape Hatteras that the area is known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic."
The first lighthouse was built in 1803 and it was replaced by the current Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1870. At 198.48 feet from ground to the tip of its lightning rod, it is the tallest lighthouse in the United States and the tallest brick lighthouse in the world. In 1999, the gradual encroachment of the sea upon the beach and the dangerously receding shoreline threatened the lighthouse and the 4830-ton structure was, amid much controversy, moved inland a distance of 2900 feet, making it about 1500 feet from the shoreline, which is about the same distance from shore as when it was originally built. By 1998, the lighthouse stood only 120 feet from the ocean. Projecting sea-level rise, analysts expected to lose the lighthouse by 2018 if no action was taken. The decision was made to save the lighthouse by moving it inland, about 1/2 mile, at a cost of $4.6 million. To create a "roadway" between the new concrete foundation and the tower, workers compacted the sand and covered it with crushed stone and steel mats. In June 1999 ICC mined the foundation - more than 800 tons of granite - from under the lighthouse. The granite was replaced with steel supports with hydraulic jacks. The jacks allowed ICC to lift the lighthouse six feet to install steel support beams underneath as a temporary foundation. On June 17, 1999 the lighthouse began to move. Workers used hydraulic jacks on rollers to gently nudge the lighthouse along track beams. Moving slowly and levelly, in five-foot increments, the lighthouse moved 2900 feet in just 23 days. On July 9, 1999 the lighthouse was lowered to its new concrete pad, three weeks ahead of schedule. The temporary steel foundation was removed and replaced with brick. The lighthouse suffered no apparent structural changes as a result of the move.

On November 13, 1999, the National Park Service held a ceremonial relighting of the lighthouse. The American Society of Civil Engineering awarded the Lighthouse Relocation Project the Outstanding Civil Engineering Award for the year 2000. Now 1600 feet from the pounding surf, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse reopened to the public in May 2000.

More information about the move here and here. The move was an engineering marvel that captured international attention and brought huge crowds to Hatteras during the summer of 1999. After months of preparation, this award-winning engineering manifestation safely moved the historic structure away from the ocean. Expected to take over 50 days, the move was accomplished in 23 days from June 17 to July 9. The move was accomplished by Expert House Movers. Now really, if they had named their company Mediocre House Movers, would you call them? Not even for a dog house? No?
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Bit of trivia: It is said that the engineer who was originally assigned the task of painting North Carolina's lighthouses, got the plans mixed up and the diamond-shaped figures, suitable for warning traffic away from Diamond Shoals, went to Cape Lookout and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse received the spiral striping, thereby forever gaining the nickname ''The Big Barber Pole.'' Oh my GOODNESS! I just looked up Cape Lookout Lighthouse and those diamonds are soooo freakin' cool!


Anonymous said...

They moved it 2900' inland in 1999 and just 10 years later it now stands 1600' from the ocean.
How close to the ocean was it in 1999 after the move? Also, do you know how close the ocean is to the original location?
Great pics, but where are the ones taken from the top?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Xmaskatie, all I know is that the CHL stood 1500 ft from shoreline in 1870. In 1919 300 feet and in 1998, only 120 from shore. Analysts, predicting future sea rise at 2.4"/year expected it to be lost to sea by 2018, with the shoreline retreating a minimum of 157 ft.
Expert House Movers moved it 2900 ft inland and it's 1600 ft from sea.

And as for the pics from the top,
there were none since I don't do
spiral, 2 way staircases the equivalent of 12 stories in hot weather. Or any other kind of weather for that matter.

I'm sure the views from the top were lovely.

Kathy said...

I was there in the summer of '99 with my dad & Peter and we saw it being moved. One of the coolest things I have ever seen. I bought the DVD, so I'll bring it next time I come down.

Kathy said...

ps - your first sentence doesn't match the pics. Do I get a prize for spotting the blooper?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Mea mucho culpa.

Thank you very much.

Yes. There will be prizes involved.

To collect, you know where to come.

This is what happens when I'm working on 1/2 a brain, deprived of sleep, and want to do research and get the pics out to my peeps.
Thanks again.