I am a Tar Heel born and bred. Though I have lived outside its borders for many years, I still love the Old North State and like to write about it. The following is a description of one of its familiar landmarks.
Cape Hatteras is situated on the Outer Banks, a line of barrier islands that extends about 200 miles along the North Carolina coast, separating Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.
Hatteras island juts far to the east of the mainland, and it is particularly susceptible to storms moving off the eastern coast of the United States. Diamond Shoals, a cluster of shifting, underwater sandbars, extends many miles in varying directions off the cape. This combination of weather and reefs makes Cape Hatteras very hazardous for ships and earned it the name “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
As a young boy I lived about 150 miles south of that point in the vicinity of Cape Fear, a place also noted for its dangerous shoals but not nearly so fearsome as Hatteras.
Hatteras Island is proximate to both the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream, which makes it the terminus for a wide range of both northern and southern marine species. While this produces fantastic conditions for beachcombers and anglers, it helps make the cape area extremely treacherous for mariners, and there have been hundreds of recorded shipwrecks along the nearby coast and sandbars.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The Hatteras lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse structure in the United States. It became operational in 1871, replacing an older lighthouse that stood nearby. In 1999, by means of an amazing civil engineering project, the huge tower was moved approximately one-half mile to the southwest to protect it from encroaching ocean tides.