Monday, July 16, 2007

Tallest Lighthouse in the United States - Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

To those of you for whom "size matters," you'll want to be sure to visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in the United States, located in Buxton, North Carolina, along the Outer Banks stretch of coastline that is known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." At 208 feet tall, from foundation to top, this lighthouse is one of the most recognized and visited lighthouse in America, drawing 200,000 visitors a year.

When was the lighthouse built? Actually, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a lighthouse that has had several incarnations.

The first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built in 1802 and lit in 1803, more than 3,000 feet from the coeval shoreline. However, it wasn't very effective due to its poor visibility from the sea. Many attempts were made to increase the visibility of the light, but were not very successful. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers attempted to destroy the tower and left it damaged, but still standing, minus the Fresnel lens they took to keep the Union Army from using the light as a navigational aid.

Coupled with the damage the lighthouse sustained, as well as the complaints received about its effectiveness, a new Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was constructed in 1870, complete with 268 spiraling stairs and two 1,000-watt lamps, visible 20 miles offshore, which blink every 7 1/2 seconds.

But, that's not the end of the story. While the Confederates were not able to totally destroy the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the erosion and the receding shoreline would, if not for a relocation of the lighthouse inland of 2900 feet. In 1999, the lighthouse was lifted and moved 1,500 feet away from the Atlantic.

The lighthouse is open each year from the third Friday in April until Columbus Day; during the summer months, visitation hours for climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse are 10 am to 4 pm daily.

If you want to visit and need a clean, yet inexpensive motel with a fantastic view, check out the Outer Banks Motel in Buxton. They're right on the ocean and an ocean-view room is pretty decent, beginning at $110 for a queen-size bed in the middle of the summer. They even provide free rowboats for their guests to use in the Pamlico Sound. Call them at 1-800-995-1233 to make reservations.

And, for those of you who are obsessed with size, there is a light tower taller than Cape Hatteras – the Lanterna in Genoa, Italy, which measures 245-ft tall.

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