The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is located on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina near the community of Buxton. At a height of 200 feet (61 m) it is the 23rd tallest "traditional lighthouse" in the world. It is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The area near Cape Hatteras was given the nickname "Graveyard of the Atlantic", because large numbers of ships ran aground due to shifting sandbars in the area of Diamond Shoals. The Civil War ironclad warship USS Monitor was one of the ships that perished. This led Congress to authorize the construction of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is recognized by the National Park Service as the tallest lighthouse in America. 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.
The lighthouse beacon was also augmented by the 175-foot (53 m) tall Diamond Shoals light tower, which is 12 miles (19 km) off of the Hatteras coast. The light tower was put in place in 1967 and lightships were present before then dating back to 1824, including one lightship sunk by a German submarine during World War I. The light tower has recently been decommissioned by the United States Coast Guard, as maintenance on the structure proved too expensive in light of increasing reliance on GPS.
On July 10, 1797 Congress appropriated $44,000 "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." The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse originally cost $14,302 to build. The Shell Castle Island Lighthouse was built from part of the surplus. Both were completed in 1803.
The original tower was built of dark sandstone and retained its natural color. The original light consisted of 18 lamps. with 14-inch (360 mm) reflectors 112 feet (34 m) above sea level. It was visible in clear weather for a distance of 18 miles (29 km).
The improvement in the light had begun in 1845 when the reflectors were changed from 14 to 15-inch (380 mm). In 1848 the 18 lamps were changed to 15 lamps with 21-inch (530 mm) reflectors, which allowed the light to be visible in clear weather at a distance of 20 miles (32 km). In 1854 a first-order Fresnel lens with a flashing white light was substituted for the old reflecting apparatus. The tower was then raised to 150 feet (46 m).
In 1860 the Lighthouse Board reported that Cape Hatteras Lighthouse required protection, due to the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1862 the Board reported "Cape Hatteras, lens and lantern destroyed, light exhibited."
At the behest of mariners and officers of the U.S. Navy, Congress appropriated $80,000 to the United States Lighthouse Board to construct a new beacon at Cape Hatteras in 1868. It was completed in just under two years under the direction of brevet Brigadier General J. H. Simpson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,. The new Cape Hatteras lighthouse cost a total of $167,000. The new tower, from which the first-order light was first exhibited December 16, 1871, was the highest brick lighthouse tower in the world. It was 193 feet (59 m) above ground and the focal height of the light was 191 feet (58 m) above the water. The old tower "being no longer of any use and in danger of falling during some heavy storm" was demolished in February 1872.
In the spring of 1879 the tower was struck by lightning. Cracks subsequently appeared in the masonry walls, which was remedied by placing a metal rod to connect the iron work of the tower with an iron disk sunk in the ground. In 1912 the candlepower of the light was increased from 27,000 to 80,000.
Ever since the completion of the new tower in 1870, there had begun a very gradual encroachment of the sea upon the beach. This did not become serious, however, until 1919, when the high water line had advanced to about 300 feet (91 m) from the base of the tower. Since that time the surf gnawed steadily toward the base of the tower until 1935, when the site was finally reached by the surf. Several attempts were made to arrest this erosion, but dikes and breakwaters had been of no avail. In 1935, therefore, the tower light was replaced by a light on a skeleton steel tower placed farther back from the sea on a sand dune, 166 feet (51 m) above the sea, and visible for 19 miles (31 km). The old tower was then abandoned to the custody of the National Park Service.
The Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration erected a series of wooden revetments which checked the wash that was carrying away the beach. In 1942 the Coast Guard resumed its control over the tower, and manned it as a lookout station until 1945. The old tower was now 500 to 900 feet (270 m) inland from the sea and again tenable as a site for the light, which was placed in commission January 23, 1950.
The new light consists of a 36-inch (0.91 m) aviation-type rotating beacon of 250,000 candlepower, visible 20 miles (32 km), and flashing white every 7.5 seconds. The skeleton steel tower was retained to guard against the time that the brick tower may again be endangered by erosion and thus require that the light again be moved.
The light displays a highly visible black and white diagonal Daymark paint job. It shares similar markings with the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
The National Park Service acquired ownership of the lighthouse when it was abandoned in 1935. In 1950, when the structure was again found safe for use, new lighting equipment was installed. Now the Coast Guard owns and operates the navigational equipment, while the National Park Service maintains the tower as a historic structure. To reach the light, which shines 191 feet (58 m) above mean high water mark, a Coast Guardsman must climb 268 steps. The construction order of 1,250,000 bricks was used in construction of the lighthouse and principal keeper's quarters.
Due to erosion of the shore, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,870 feet (870 m) inland. The move was controversial at the time with speculation that the structure would not survive the move, resulting in lawsuits that were later dismissed. Despite some opposition, work progressed and the move was completed between 1999 and 2000 in a massive operation. Rededicated in 2000, the lighthouse is fully open to the public at its new location further inland.
Each lawn lighthouse ornament is meticulously handcrafted from synthetic stucco and masonry over a solid foam core making it virtually impervious to the elements. The lighthouse features real decorative windows with beautiful curtains in each window and a highly detailed six panel door. The lighthouse is completely hand-painted and is a replica of an actual lighthouse. Each lighthouse comes with a standard light, or you may upgrade to one of several accessories.
Simulates 14 revolutions per minute. Comes with three (3) fresnel lenses and a 25 watt bulb, which can be upgraded to a bright halogen or LED bulb during checkout.
Simulates 8 revolutions per minute. Comes with 1 fresnel lens and a 25 watt bulb, which can be upgraded to a bright halogen or LED bulb during checkout.
Simulates 8 revolutions per minute. Comes with 1 fresnel lens and 2 mirror backers. Comes with a 25 watt bulb, which can be upgraded to a bright halogen or LED bulb during checkout. Also has an on/off switch.
This is a high-quality, rugged solar beacon. No electricity required! Automatically comes on at dusk and will run for 14 days without charging. Available in blinking or non-blinking. Flashes 18 times per minute. Includes 6 high-intensity LED bulbs with reflector.
Electric Fresnel Beacon
This is a real fresnel lens that projects light in the same way as a real lighthouse. It's very authentic looking. This light features an 8000 hour, 40 watt electric traffic light bulb with a diode to double the life expectancy.
6 settings to choose from: "On": The Lighthouse will Always be On "Dusk-Dawn": Automatically turns your lighthouse on at dark, then off at dawn "2/4/6/8 hrs" Automatically turns lighthouse on at dark then off at 2/4/6/8/hours later.
LED Light-Up Windows
Add $65.00 to $100
For Electric lighthouses only.
Low Voltage Light Kit
Connect your lighthouse to 12V low voltage garden lights. Comes with a 10W halogen bulb.
Customize your Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with a variety of accessories. The lighthouse comes with a 25W bulb, but you can upgrade it to a rotating beacon, fresnel lens, or solar light. Add LED light-up windows for a very charming glow. You can also order a real rock and mortar base to set it on. See below for all the options available. Selections are made during checkout.