Cape Hatteras is probably the most famous lighthouse in the world - especially after ‘The Move of the Century’ in 1999. However, while the present tower is much celebrated, it wasn’t the first light at the location.
A beacon was first lit in 1803 and the fact that there has been a light on or near Cape Hatteras to guide mariners for 200 years was celebrated by the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society (OBLHS) and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Saturday, October 18.
The event included presentations on the history of the lighthouse and of the Outer Banks by several authors as well as a free climb to the top of America’s tallest lighthouse.
Author and Historian Kevin Duffus keynoted the morning in a talk near the circle of stones marking the pre-move location of the present Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. His presentation was attended by over 100 including OBLHS members and others who came for the day of activities. Under overcast skies and occasional sprinkles, Mr. Duffus reviewed the story of the four lights that have marked the dangerous Diamond Shoals, the well-known “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
The circle of stones marks the pre-move location of the present tower. The stones are engraved with the names of the 83 civilian keepers and assistant keepers who served over the history of the light station.
“The Circle of Stones was what was left of the foundation when the lighthouse was cut away,” according to Shelton-Roberts. “The Circle of Stones has become a ‘magical’ place; there have been weddings, funerals and even christenings at the site.”
The stones were placed shortly after the move and were engraved in location.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the keepers quarters were open free of charge all day. In a large tent between the tower and the keepers quarters, presentations were also available. Among the speakers during the day were:
Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Larry Belli cooperated with the OBLHS and brought in additional rangers and staff for the event. The OBLHS provided the financial support for the celebration.
Saturday evening, members of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society gathered in Nags Head for their annual Keepers Dinner and to continue the celebration of 200 Years of Light at Cape Hatteras.
The event included an auction, a raffle and a talk by Homer Hickam, author of The Keeper’s Son.
Bruce Roberts, Bett Padgett, and Judy Castleberry of the OBLHS chaired the celebration event.
This story appeared in the
December 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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