The present lighthouse, officially completed and lit in December 1870, is the second built of three that have been constructed in Buxton. The first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built in 1803. It was a sandstone structure 90 feet tall that projected an insufficient light beam using a collection of Argand lamps and reflectors. Sitars to a new height of 150 feet in 1854, and a first order Fresnel lens was installed, the most powerful of its day. During the Civil War in 1861, retreating Confederate soldiers took the Fresnel lamp from the lighthouse, to keep it out of Union hands. Shell damage during the war and structural deterioration prompted the construction of a replacement lighthouse in 1870, the one we enjoy today. The original lighthouse was then demolished in 1871.
Whale oil was replaced by kerosene by the 1880’s, and by 1934, the beam was electrified. Beach erosion threatened the base of the lighthouse by 1935, prompting the construction of a third lighthouse some distance away in the Buxton Woods. It was a steel skeleton tower that utilized an airport beacon. Fifteen years later, the 1870 lighthouse was again put back in operation, as erosion patterns changed. The Fresnel lens was vandalized in the 1940’s when the older lighthouse stood empty during those years. Now it uses two active 1000-watt lamps, visible for more than 20 miles. In 1999 the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved a half mile inland, to save it from the encroaching Atlantic.
$8 for adults and $4 for seniors
Open From (Hour):
Close To (Hour):
May - September