Local News

Hatteras stones to be moved closer to lighthouse

Posted May 6, 2014 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2014 6:48 p.m. EDT

— Fifteen years ago, an engineering marvel unfolded on the Outer Banks when crews moved the 4,800-ton Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to protect it from shoreline erosion.

Now, the National Park Service is working to move another link to North Carolina's iconic beacon – a massive 36-stone marker called The Circle of the Stones, which sits in the exact spot where the lighthouse stood for more than a century before it was moved to safer ground.

The stones, each weighing 3,000 pounds or more, are engraved with the names of the 83 keepers of the lighthouse since it was originally built at Cape Point in 1803. For the past 13 years, The Circle of the Stones has been a popular tourist destination and served as the site of weddings, baptisms, memorial services and other events.

In 1999, when the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was moved 2,900 feet from the spot where it was built in 1870, there wasn't much concern about the stones. As the result of Atlantic storms over the past few years, however, the stones were buried in sand to the point that they were barely visible.

After months of planning and discussion with Hatteras residents and preservation groups about what to do about the stones, the National Park Service plans to relocate them by Memorial Day to the base of where the lighthouse now sits and arrange them in a semi-circle to form an outdoor theater called Keeper of the Light Amphitheater

"Things change, especially here," said Dixie Burrus, whose grandfather, Ethelburt Burrus, was an assistant light keeper. "The banks change, the surf changes from day to day, but these stones – they stay. They will stay, and they are reminders."

The second Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, rebuilt in 1870 to replace the one at the Cape Point location, was originally more than a quarter-mile from the ocean's edge.

By the time it was moved in 1999, only 120 feet of beach separated it from the Atlantic Ocean.