A Small Step at the Beginning of a Long Journey
Posted June 16, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
BUXTON — At 3:10 p.m. Thursday, moving crews accomplished what nature could not andbegan moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
"It is a part of America's heritage and we do have to save it," one visitor said. Few would disagree, but the decision abouthow to save the Cape Lighthas been nothing if not contentious. The victors hope there will be no spoils, as International Chimney workers begin rolling the 4,400 ton beacon away from the encroaching water.
There was no shortage ofspectatorswatching the historic moment when the 128-year-old landmark was set in motion on 100 rollers.
John Crowley has spent 56 years watching the 208-foot structure; he planned to watch it move. "When I was a little boy, from the lighthouse to the beach was a long walk. And the beach right now is, it's scary how close it is to the lighthouse."
"Now, it's kind of like we're getting ready to go on the homestretch," Crowley says.
All of the rollers and hydraulic beams have been in place since Thursday morning, and were ready to gently nudge the lighthouse 2,900 feet, about 100 feet per day. The lighthouse was moved about 10 feet Thursday.
"You actually have to line up the lighthouse with some object in the foreground to watch it move," said Joe Jakubik with the International Chimney Corporation. "Otherwise, you can't tell by either being on it or standing next to it."
"It makes us feel very good that we are doing something positive that will preserve the lighthouse of America, so that our children and grandchildren can visit it," says Bob Reynolds of theNational Park Service.
The first few steps were the most critical. They estimate it will take six weeks to move the structure to its new resting place.
"The main thing to understand with the project is we are not going to move the lighthouse if there's any slightest doubt that we're going to do damage to it," said Dan McClaren of the National Park Service.
Lighthouse lovers like Kay Hall were relieved to hear that engineers planned for every contingency. Many visitors came for a look and hoped it would not be their last.
"I think it will be devastating if anything happens," Hall said.
Children joined their parents to watch the historic move, and learned a lot in the process.
"They are going to move that lighthouse because it is pretty close to getting washed away into the ocean," said spectator Alex Celigoi.
One of the final visitors inside the lighthouse Thursday was the granddaughter of the last lighthouse keeper. She said the experience was a very emotional one.
WRAL-TV5 will have complete coverage of the lighthouse move, and you canfollow the move onlinewith daily photos and audio reports. andAmanda Lamb