Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (original foundation site)
Perhaps the United State's most iconic lighthouse, Cape Hatteras was built to guide ships through some of the most dangerous seas on the east coast. The original tower built at the cape was completed in 1803 and served for over half a century before succumbing, as so many southern lighthouses did, to the ravages of the Civil War. Damage inflicted on the light during the war were sufficient enough that Congress determined that a building an entirely new lighthouse would be more cost-effective. The present 203-foot tower (the highest in the U.S.) was lit in 1870 and served until 1935 when the Coast Guard abandoned it as it appeared the light would soon fall into the sea. In 1950 the light was relit, however, as the shoreline had once again retreated from the light. Mother nature's reprieve would be brief. By 1990 the ocean had once again eaten to within 100' of the tower and a massive effort was soon underway to relocate the historic structure. In 1999, through a remarkable feat of engineering, the light and keepers building were carefully moved a half-mile inland. The light continues to be an active aid to navigation to this day and in the summer you can climb its 248 steps for a truly spectacular view of the surrounding seashore.