Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Skyline Picture
Panoramic photograph taken by renowned photographer James Blakeway.
Recognizing the very danger to Atlantic shipping, Congress, in 1794, authorized the construction of a permanent lighthouse at Cape Hatteras. It took almost ten years before a "light was raised" in October, 1803. Built in sandstone, 90 feet high, the tower was a start, but only a start in providing the protection needed in those hazardous waters. A major problem through years was illumination; the the small lamp fueled by sperm whale oil did not penetrate the darkness beyond the shoals. Storms shattered the windows and broke the lamps, putting the lights out for days at a time.The present brick tower, erected in 1869-70 by the Lighthouse Board, cost more than $150,000. Major George B. Nicholson, Assistant Engineer, Fifth Lighthouse District, supervised construction. Both this tower and the original structure were built before the present-day pile-driver was perfected; both therefore were set upon "Floating Foundation." This means that two layers of 6" by 12" yellow pine timbers were placed crosswise below the water table. Always submerged, the foundation timbers were preserved through the years. Recent examination showed no deterioration of the century-old beams. A new Fresnel lens and oil lamp were installed and a light flashed >from the new tower on December 16,1870. The old tower, no longer useful and in danger of falling, was blown up and totally destroyed. The final "touch" for the new structure was the distinctive black and white striping ordered by the Lighthouse Board in 1873 to make the tower " a better day mark on this low, sandy coast." This practical application of paint turned an ordinary light tower into one of the most striking and beautiful structures on the Atlantic Coast. The Lighthouse Service changed the eliminant to an incandescent oil vapor lamp in 1913. Twenty years later, in 1934 the Service electrified the Cape Hatteras Light. A new lighting device was installed in 1950. The present, stronger device was installed in 1972. This illuminating equipment consists of a rotating beacon with two 1,000-watts about 20 miles. It appears at a distance as a short flash at intervals of 7 1/2 seconds. Under especially favorable atmospheric conditions, the light has been observed 51 miles at sea. The type of mechanism changed several times over the years. With the installation of the Fresnel lens in 1854, the light changed from a fixed beam to a revolving flare. To rotate the lens, a weight descended slowly from the top of the tower into a well at the base, engaging a series of gears which turned the beacon. It usually took 12 hours to make a complete descent. The keeper then rewound the apparatus for another cycle. When the light was electrified in 1934, this rudimentary device was no longer necessary. Today, electricity provides the rotating power and a master clock of Swiss design, known as an Astronomic Tide Switch, turns the light on and off. The clock allows for the lengthening or shortening of the day and is adjusted to turn the light on 30 minutes before sunrise and off 30 minutes after sunrise. Although the mechanism has changed, the light itself remained white. Even with Cape Hatteras as the primary aid to navigation in the area, secondary warning devices were needed farther out and directly on the shoals. Such devices were considered as early as 1803. After storms ruined repeated attempts to erect a tower, the Lighthouse Service decided to anchor a Lightship at the outer limits of Diamond Shoals. Through the years, three lightships have been place on station; the first dropped anchor in 1826, but was broken up in gale three years later. Lightship #69, the first to be named "Diamond", took its position in 1897 and remained until 1967, when a Texas tower-type structure replaced it.
Size: 13 1/2 in. x 40 in.
This fine art print is reproduced on pH neutral heavy art stock with UV resistant ink.
This item is available framed or just as the print. Please choose framed or unframed from the drop down menu. Unless an option is selected we will ship the unframed print.
The Framed prints are mounted and backed professionally with a foam core, so the art will never wrinkle under glass. The frame is black glossy aluminum with special tempered glass. A great addition to any office, dorm room, rec room, etc. Is also a very popular gift!
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