The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is an iconic structure located on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, USA. It is a popular tourist destination and a symbol of maritime history. One of the most notable features of the lighthouse is the number of stripes that adorn its exterior. In this article, we will explore the historical background of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the significance of its stripes, and other interesting facts about this historic structure.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was first built in 1803 and was the first lighthouse to be built in North Carolina. It was constructed to aid mariners navigating the treacherous waters of the Diamond Shoals, which had claimed many ships over the years. The lighthouse was designed by Winslow Lewis, a noted engineer of the time, and was built of brick and coated with a white exterior.
The First Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was 90 feet tall and had a fixed light that could be seen for 18 miles. However, due to erosion and the shifting sands of the Outer Banks, the lighthouse began to lean and was eventually deemed unsafe for use. In 1870, it was replaced by the second Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is still standing today.
The Second Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The second Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was constructed between 1868 and 1870 and is 198 feet tall. It has a flashing light that can be seen for 20 miles. The lighthouse is made of brick and is painted with black and white stripes.
The Stripes on the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has a distinctive black and white spiral pattern that consists of seven black and six white stripes. The stripes are painted in a spiral pattern, with the black stripes wider at the base and the white stripes wider at the top. The purpose of the stripes is to make the lighthouse more visible during the day, especially in foggy conditions.
The Original Color of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The original color of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was a plain, unpainted brick exterior. In 1873, it was decided to paint the lighthouse to make it more visible to mariners. The first painting was a simple white coating, but it soon became clear that the white was not visible enough in foggy conditions. The black and white stripes were added in 1873 and have remained the same ever since.
The Significance of the Number of Stripes
The number of stripes on the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has no particular significance. It was chosen because it provided the best visibility for mariners in the area. The spiral pattern was also chosen because it made the lighthouse more distinctive and easier to recognize.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has undergone several preservation efforts over the years to keep it standing. In 1999, the lighthouse was moved 2900 feet inland to protect it from erosion. The move was successful and the lighthouse remains open to visitors today.
Visiting the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open to visitors from April to October. Visitors can climb the 257 steps to the top of the lighthouse for a stunning 360-degree view of the Outer Banks. The lighthouse also has a museum on site that tells the story of the lighthouse and its importance to maritime history.
Interesting Facts About the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
- The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in the world.
- The lighthouse has survived several hurricanes, including Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
- The lighthouse was used as a lookout during World War II to spot German U-boats off the coast of North Carolina.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is an important symbol of North Carolina’s maritime history. Its distinctive black and white stripes make it one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the world. Through preservation efforts, the lighthouse will continue to stand for generations to come, serving as a reminder of the importance of safety and navigation in the maritime industry.
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