Cape Hatteras

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse seen from the light keepers house in Buxton. The lighthouse was put in service in 1870 and is the world's tallest brick lighthouse at 208 feet. Its beacon can be seen 20 miles out at sea.
Cliff Owen / Associated Press

The lighthouse at Cape Hatteras was first lit on Dec. 16, 1870. A century and a half later, the iconic structure – the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States – is still standing and is an active aid to navigation. It has survived heavy storms, a decommissioning, years of erosion, service during World War II, and a 23-day move in 1999.

With its 150th anniversary approaching, a celebration is in order for the lighthouse. But, because it's 2020 and the world is still dealing with the pandemic, the party is being done a bit differently.

Cape Hatteras
scott1346 / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/22gXbzu

Visitors aren’t allowed on the Outer Banks right now because of COVID-19. But there’s a new way to absorb the tranquility of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The National Park Service is celebrating 20 years since crews moved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse away from an encroaching shoreline.  

Corolla Beach
Thomas Wheeler / AltAdjust.com

Three swimmers drowned at Cape Hatteras National Seashore last week. Two had been caught in rip currents.

Rips are strong, narrow currents that pull water directly away from shore. They often form near a break in a sandbar.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Updated

Two devices that appear to be World War II-era training ordnance have washed up on separate parts of North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier, August 4, 2013
Alistair Nicol / Flickr/Creative Commons

Cape Hatteras has been ranked as the sixth best beach in the nation by a leading beach expert, Dr. Stephen Leatherman ("Dr. Beach") of Florida International University.

Here's the list:

'Sunny Side Up' A picture of  a lifeguard chair
Creative Commons

The National Parks Service is trying to keep at least a few lifeguards on the Cape Hatteras Seashore this summer.

Federal officials cut the $200,000 program that staffed three beaches seven days a week during the summer.

Now, Outer Banks Group Superintendent Barclay Trimble said he wants lifeguard service contractors to offer bids that can accommodate a tighter budget.

Cape Point is south of Buxton, Map
Google

One of the most popular sections of the Cape Hatteras seashore is off limits for vehicles for the next few months. The Cape Point area south of Buxton is the migratory home to the piping plover, a nationally- recognized threatened species.

In 2011, the park service implemented a vehicle management plan that requires a 75 foot buffer zone be put up to prevent off-roaders from driving near the birds.

The wreck of the Civil War vessel USS Monitor lies off the coast of Cape Hatteras. Friday marks 150 years to the day since it sank.
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary / noaa.gov

The NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary held a ceremony in Beaufort yesterday to unveil sign recognizing the 40th anniversary of the USS Monitor's discovery. The sign is the first of five to be dedicated that marks a place of significance in the Civil War vessel’s history. The USS Monitor was discovered 40 years ago in 230 feet of water about 16 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras. 

Bodie Island Lighthouse
National Park Service

For the first time ever, the Bodie Island Lighthouse will be open for public tours.  The structure was built in 1872 and has been closed for a $5 million renovation for the past four years. Years of exposure to harsh weather had brought on structural and safety problems. Restoration work included repairs to the spiral stairs, brickwork and the lens that still serves as a navigational guide for ships.

A bill that would re-open parts of Cape Hatteras to vehicles has passed the U.S. House.

Gurnal Scott: The legislation includes North Carolina congressman Walter Jones' bill lifting restrictions on access. The Federal Lands and Water Projects Bill overturns National Park Service rules keeping off-road vehicle traffic from a large part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Congressman Jones says this bill will have a positive effect on one of the state's top tourist areas.

Congressman Walter Jones has filed a bill to overturn new rules on beach driving along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The eastern North Carolina Republican says new restrictions to protect sea turtles and birds will harm the local recreational economy.

Walter Jones: Instead of finding a balance between the endangered species and the people, it seems like that they're always giving more consideration to the endangered species. And I'm for protecting the endangered species, you know my work to protect the horses at Shackleford Banks and up in Corolla.

AAA Carolinas expects more drivers on the road this holiday weekend despite damage from Hurricane Irene. The agency says about 870,000 motorists will be traveling in North Carolina over the Labor Day weekend. That's about 1 percent more than this time last year. And AAA Carolinas spokesman Tom Crosby says that includes areas with storm damage.

Dare County officials are asking residents to conserve power as utilities set up emergency generators on Hatteras Island. Parts of the main highway on the Outer Banks were washed away in four spots near Rodanthe. That left residents who waited out the storm stranded on Hatteras Island. Dare County spokeswoman Cathryn Bryan says emergency crews are taking bare essentials to the hardest hit areas.

A new project aims to give combat veterans and their families some rest and relaxation on the beach. Kevin McCabe is one of the founders of the Cape Hatteras Wounded Warriors project. Its main goal is to provide Purple Heart recipients with vacation getaways on Hatteras Island. McCabe says the idea was born out of a desire to give something back to those who have served their country.

A North Carolina historian says a recent storm revealed a shipwreck on Hatteras Island. Scott Dawson was exploring a remote area of the island last week with friend Matthew Farkas when they came across a 20-foot-long steel vessel with a square-shaped bow. Scientists think the ship might have been a ferry or transport ship for troops during World War II. Dawson says the front of the ship was sticking out of the sand almost entirely intact.