of stones at old lighthouse site are
being uncovered and prepared for a move
climbing the stairs of the lighthouse, perusing the exhibits at the
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, or merely meandering along a bustling
soundside dock, it is easy to see that Hatteras Island abounds with a
rich history and a community that deeply cherishes its culture and
When it seems that a piece of the past may be
slipping through the cracks and eventually be forgotten, local
residents are quick to take action, initiating petitions for their
cause and launching efforts in pursuit of proper historical
The circle of stones, which marks the former site of the Cape Hatteras
Lighthouse, is one such case.
36 massive granite stones were cut from the lighthouse’s foundation
during its 1999 relocation and later engraved – through a donation from
the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society -- with the names of the 83 keepers
of the light.
The stones serve as a symbol of cultural and
historical significance -- a monument to the 1870 lighthouse, the
massive 1999 relocation project, and to all those linked to the light
over the years.
The circle of stones attracts a steady stream of
visitors who create new memories at the site while eyeballing the 2,900
feet that now stand between the lighthouse and its former home.
it has been the site of weddings, memorial services, christenings,
Easter sunrise services, and other important ceremonies
However the beach erosion that prompted the lighthouse relocation now
threatens the monument’s survival.
The tide has crept closer and sand from storm tides often cover the
the years, the National Park Service maintained the site by removing
the sand coverage, but last spring, decided to end their cyclical
battle against the elements, allowing the site to become a gauge of the
rising sea level.
This decision raised a red flag throughout the
island community, including members of both the Outer Banks Lighthouse
Society and the Hatteras Island Genealogical and Preservation Society.
alternative proposition to move the stones to the Graveyard of the
Atlantic Museum was also opposed because the groups felt that they
should retain their connection to the lighthouse.
of correspondence between the two groups and the Park Service and with
the involvement of the office of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and
seashore Superintendent Barclay Trimble, a plan was finally forged.
stones would be moved to a location in the vicinity of the lighthouse’s
current location but would not be reassembled as a circle.
to Bett Padgett, president of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society,
Trimble told them that the Park Service would prefer they not be left
in a circle, lest it might give the impression to visitors that the
lighthouse had been moved just a few feet instead of 2,900 feet.
will form an amphitheater – with the stones forming semicircular rows –
in the area behind the outdoor pavilion and the new site will be named
“Keepers of the Light Amphitheater”.
Although plans have been made, the process of relocating the massive
stones has only just begun.
have uncovered the stones to take measurements and start planning for
the move and the barricade around the stones will be coming down
tomorrow to allow for public access until the move occurs,” Trimble
said in an e-mail yesterday. “We have submitted information
the State Historic Preservation Office about our plans, and we will not
be moving the stones until we have had communications with them.”
the park gets the go-ahead, the stones will be moved to the Buxton
maintenance yard where the stones will be cleaned up and prepared for
their new home on the Light Station grounds.
The Park Service
could not provide a firm date for when the process will begin, but it
is projected to occur within the next week or two.