The first Cape Hatteras lighthouse was built in 1803. The reason for the lighthouse being built was the offshore currents flow in opposite directions, which produce conditions that can cause fog and dangerous storms. This can also produce rough currents. These rough currents can cause shallow water where the sailors still think they are in deep water and that can cause the ship to wreck.
Plans to build a lighthouse on Cape Hatteras started as early as 1792. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the first lighthouse to be used as a warning light for sailors. The original design stood 90 feet tall and used whale oil lamps to light the tower. This system did not work because the lamps did not produce enough light and many ships almost ran ground because there was not enough light to discern water from land. The lighthouse increased in height from 90 feet to 150 feet in 1854. A Fresnel lens was installed to make the light more intense. Rooms were added for the keepers of the lighthouse to stay in. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built on a sand dune that kept shrinking. The Lighthouse Board recommended that a new lighthouse be built following inspection of the structure after the Civil War. In 1870, a new Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was constructed. The lighthouse was over 200 feet tall. It still stands as the world's tallest brick lighthouse.
The lighthouse is now a National Historic Landmark.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Route 1 Box 675
Manteo, NC 27954