Cape Hatteras Lighthouse celebrates ‘move of the century’

Here we are on 6/30/99 one day beyond 1/2 way. [NPS photo]

A day full of events is planned July 1 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse move.

The free event will start at 9:30 a.m. near the lighthouse and will include speeches, a question-and-answer session with expert panelists, artifacts from the move, expanded interpretive ranger talks, activities for children, and free lighthouse climbing.

To start the day, Bett Padgett (past president of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society) will kick off the 20th Anniversary of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Move Celebration event in her role as Mistress of Ceremonies. The first 45 minutes to one hour will feature a series of speakers, including David Hallac, Superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina; Scott Babinowich, Chief of Interpretation, Cape Hatteras NS/Fort Raleigh NHS/Wright Brothers NMEM; Bob Woodard, Chair, Dare County Board of Commissioners; Dr. Stanley Riggs, Distinguished Research Professor of Geology, East Carolina University; Bob Woody, NPS Public Information Officer during the move; Terry Ann Jennette Ponton, Granddaughter of Unaka Jennette, last keeper of the lighthouse; Dr. Robert Young, Director, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, Western Carolina University and Danny Couch, Commissioner, Dare County Board of Commissioners, Hatteras Island Historian.

Following the speaker portion of the event, a panelist question and answer session will be moderated by Aida Havel, Outer Banks Lighthouse Society board member.

Between the speaker section and the panelist discussion, Bett Padgett will perform her song “If I Were A Lighthouse.” After Superintendent Hallac provides closing comments, Mojo Collins will perform his song “Hope of Diamond Shoals.”

Lighthouse climbs are free as part of the anniversary celebration of the lighthouse move and to encourage people to experience the view from the top of the lighthouse where the move path, old site, and shoreline changes can be seen firsthand. Climbing hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Join a ranger at the old lighthouse site at 2:30 p.m. to hear stories of the move while walking the 2,900-foot move path between the old and new sites.

Artifacts from the move, along with posters describing the details of the move, are on display in the Double Keepers’ Quarters.

Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, Outer Banks Forever, NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum will have informational tables near the Double Keepers’ Quarters.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse started its epic “move of the century” journey on June 17, 1999. After the lighthouse was lifted, the tower moved 2,900 feet over the course of 23 days to its current location.

On 7/01/99 the lighthouse was pushed 354.60′. This would be the record for the move. [NPS photo]
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, sentinel of the perilous Diamond Shoals, where the Gulf Stream meets the Labrador Current, witness to the tragic sinking and triumphant rescues claimed by the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” resumed its duties on Nov. 13, 1999 and continues to do so to this day.

In addition to the lighthouse move celebration, park rangers will present daily interpretive lighthouse move programs beginning May 3 and continuing through Oct. 14.

From June 17 through July 9 (the anniversary of the 23 day lighthouse move), expanded interpretive programming will take place on the grounds of Cape Hatteras Light Station. For information about programming, visit: