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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Preser vat i on and Ins t rumentat i on for Re l oc at i on
Constructed in 1870 to light the treacherous shoals along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse withstood many hurricanes but
by the 1980s was increasingly threatened by erosion of the nearby shoreline. The National Park Service commissioned a team of engineers, architects,
and contractors to move the 200-foot tall lighthouse, adjacent keepers’ quarters, and several smaller structures to a new site, 2,900 feet inland from their
original location.
The interdisciplinary project team met the complex technical challenges presented by the move, and helped to save this national treasure. The
historic move, completed in just twenty-three days, drew an average of 15,000 spectators per day. Relocation of the lighthouse and adjacent
buildings was accomplished without damage to the historic structures.
Notes of Interest
• There has been a working lighthouse at or near
Cape Hatteras since 1803. The first lighthouse was built
of sandstone block and stood ninety feet tall. It was
demolished in 1871, shortly after the current lighthouse
entered service. The ruins were visible until a 1980
storm swept them away.
• The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is recognized by the
National Park Service as the tallest lighthouse in America
at 193 feet, 2 inches tall.
• In good visibility conditions, the lighthouse beacon
can be seen for twenty miles out at sea.
• Over one million bricks were used in the construction
of the structure, which was built at a cost of $167,500
in 1870.
This remarkable engineering feat moved a national landmark out of harm’s way. – Harry Hunderman
This project represents a comprehensive contribution to the preservation of a well known
National Historic Landmark, and an unprecedented, complex relocation. – Jim Connolly
By providing critical performance information instantaneously, WJE’s innovative and reliable
electronic monitoring and data acquisition system reduced the time of the actual move by many
weeks. – Bill Nugent
WJE 50 Years