|Beach Access and Park Issues
| October 2, 2009
Park Service hosts celebration of historic lighthouse move
By IRENE NOLAN
National Park Service brought together some of the movers and shakers
today to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the historic move of the
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
journey took the lighthouse about a half mile to the southwest of its
original location, where it stood guard over the treacherous Diamond
Shoals for almost 130 years, to move it away from the encroaching
move took about 175 days of on-site preparation and was completed in 23
days from June 17 to July 9, 1999, amid a great deal of media coverage
move of the world’s tallest brick lighthouse – 208 feet
tall and weighing 4,400 tons – was a feat that had never before
been attempted. It is still today believed to be the largest,
biggest structure ever moved, and the relocation won several
morning, under sunny skies and with pleasant fall temperatures, many of
the folks involved returned to celebrate and discuss what came to be
known as the “move of the century.”
gathered under a tent next to the relocated lighthouse with invited
guests, current and former Park Service volunteers, a few members of
the community, and some tourists who stopped by to see what was
of the invited guests who spoke on a panel to discuss the move was
Russell Berry, who became superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National
Seashore in 1994 and was the official who got the move underway after
some years of discussion about how – or whether – to move
related a story about Park Service engineers who were instructed to
find the proper place to move the lighthouse out of harm’s way.
late 1994,” he said, “they brought me through the woods to
this spot where they had placed a stake in the ground.
And that is the site to which the iconic beacon was finally moved.
But, Berry recalled, the plan to move the light was not without problems with funding and a controversy in the community.
price tag on the move, which ended up being about $13 million, was more
than the Park Service could carve out of its budget, Berry said.
He said he approached Sen. Marc Basnight, a Democrat from Manteo who
was then and is now President Pro Tempore of the state’s Senate.
He said Basnight and then Go v.
James Hunt lobbied President Bill Clinton in his limousine on a trip
the chief executive made to Raleigh, and in 1998, Congress appropriated
$9.8 million for the move.
Berry also noted the local controversy that erupted over the plan to move the lighthouse.
move was opposed by many Hatteras islanders, who were worried that the
lighthouse wouldn’t make it to its new site in one piece or who
just thought it should stay in its historic location by the sea.
“It’s good to come back after 10 years,” he said, “and see everyone sitting down together.”
Jakubik, who was the chief engineer for the contractor on the move,
International Chimney Corp. of Buffalo, N.Y., spoke eloquently about
his involvement with the project.
“If you are lucky in life, you have a chance to be a part of something wonderful,” he said.
And, he said, the move of the century was his chance at that.
“This was the job we trained for,” he said of the many engineers who were part of the relocation.
said the group brought together to do the heavy moving was a
“dream team.” He mentioned many names and companies,
and among them were Jerry Matyiko of Expert House Movers and Steve Crum
of Buxton, who was a problem solver and go-to guy for the moving team.
Couch of Buxton, who has written about island history since high school
and who did not support moving the lighthouse, also spoke.
he noted, that the move was “good for the island, good for the
county, good for the state, good for the country, and good for
Crow, deputy secretary of the North Carolina office of Archives and
History, also addressed the group, and Cheryl Shelton-Roberts, a
co-founder of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society was the keynote
Jerry Matyiko of Expert House Movers came back to Hatteras for the celebration.
He said people still ask him about the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse relocation.
“They say, ‘Did you see about that lighthouse being moved at Cape Hatteras? Do you know who did that?’
“I just say, ‘Yes.’”
The old lighthouse site is now marked with a ring of the original granite stones, engraved with the names of the lightkeepers.
storms and hurricanes and northeasters have sent the ocean surging over
the area, just as they did before the relocation.
fact, the relighting of the beacon, originally scheduled for Labor Day
weekend of 1999, had to be rescheduled because of Hurricane
Dennis. The tides from that storm ripped up part of Highway 12
between Avon and Buxton, and the storm surge flooded both the old and
new lighthouse sites.
beach in front of the historic site of the Hatteras light is about what
it was before the move – not noticeably wider or narrower.
The lighthouse would probably still be standing by the sea if it had not been relocated.
But most islanders and visitors have accepted the relocation and gotten used to the new site.
And the move of the century was an unforgettable experience for many islanders and thousands of visitors who came to see it.
and photos from the historic move of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse that
were written 10 years ago are posted on the Island Features page in the