Sunday, November 22, 2009

Move of the Century

I have the task of giving a program about the lighthouse. The 2 interp rangers that are stationed here for the winter both need to have a talk on this topic and it is obvioius why. So that means Jen and I are both working on bettering our programs :) We wanted to make each one different so we both choice different lighthouse topics. Jen is delivering a talk about the light's historic values and how life was for the lighhouse keepers out there on the Outer Banks. I chose the epic relocation project named "the move of the century." After the relocation it was named a National Civil Engineering Landmark which I think is pretty neat!

The lighthouse was moved from its original location to its new home 2,900 feet to the southwest. The move was completed in the summer of 1999 so this year marks the 10th aniversary. This truly was an engineering feat. Most visitors come in amazed that it was able to be moved all in one piece without a single crack in the foundation. The only crack in the lighthouse was caused by lightning long before the relacation project.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse weighs 4800 tons...thats more than 2 space shuttles and is composed of 1,250,000 bricks (The tallest brick lighthouse in the world). At 208 ft it is also the tallest lighthouse in North America. Intimidating?....yes. Those responsible for the project were a chimney moving company out of Buffalo, NY and a housemoving company out if Virgina. Both the principal and double keepers quarters were moved as well and placed at the new site.

Preparation began 6 months earlier. Workers dug down 6 feet from the base of the lighthouse and proceeded to separate the lighthouse from its granite base with a diamond tiped cable saw. As the granite was removed, steel shoring towers were placed underneath to transfer the weight. A straight line was then cleared and paved with gravel creating a move path for the lighthouse. The lighthouse now sat on steal that rested on heavy duty rollers. this is how the lighthouse would move...little by little.

Hydrallic jacks pushed from behind as the monsterous structure made its way slowly down the move path. Steal beams were taken from behind the lighthouse and placed in front like stepping stones as it moved along. After 23 days of slow movement the light reached its new home a safe 1,500ft from the ocean on July 9, 1999. It now stood the same distance away from the sea as it did when it was first built in 1870. Just goes to show how fast our world is changing. The island is being shifted to the southwest at an extrodinary rate. She continues to shine today keeping man-kind safe from the dangerous waters of the diamond shoals and we have returned the favor in keeping her safe from beach erosion for another 100 years.

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