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Circle of Stones Greets Lighthouse Visitors as Beach is Reopened to the Public

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BUXTON — It is another landmark day at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The old site is now open to the public after being closed for the past eight months while workers moved the historic lighthouse away from an eroding beach.

The lighthouse sat in its original location for 130 years, fending off the forces of Mother Nature and the sea. But like a sand castle facing high tide, the ocean would win in the end.

Now, after a 2,900 foot journey inland, grains of sand -- and a circle of stones -- remain where the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse once stood.

"They were just going to put a plaque there from what I heard. Then we took the plinth stones from out under the lighthouse, and we were going to put those stones back and someone decided it would just be easier to cut the fronts of the stones and put the fronts back on," explains Richard Meekins, a member of the crew that moved the lighthouse.

But the 3,000-pound pieces of history will not go to waste.

"Someone asks us every day 'Where was the lighthouse?' and we had to point over to an empty spot," says Meekins. "So now we can point over to a piece of the lighthouse at least."

The plinth stones will tell visitors where the lighthouse stood until a few months ago.

"It's wonderful, we will always know where it was and how safe it is now," says Addy Lou Kaywood, a visitor from Winston-Salem.

Visitors like Kaywood who are familiar with the location of their old friend are surprised to see how far it moved.

"We've been coming here since the '70s and we have had a view of the lighthouse from the deck of the house where we stay. When we came here we went 'Oh, we can't see the lighthouse!' But when we see how the beach has been eaten away there is no doubt in our minds this was the right thing to do," she says.

And now they have the perfect perspective on the lighthouse's old address.

"I think its great," says Toni Butterfield, who is visiting from Maine. "We have been following it in the newspapers from Maine, and it's so exciting that we will be able to show her the paper articles and show her how it has moved."

Before long, the vegetation will grow back, covering the path to the new location. But the 36 stones will sit as a reminder of where the lighthouse once stood.