For the second post in our series on North Carolina Icons, we’re featuring number two from Our State magazine’s 100 North Carolina Icons: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Remember to also check out the State Library of North Carolina‘s resources for visiting the icons. The Outer Banks has a great interactive map you should take a look at as well.
Our State says the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is “the tallest lighthouse in the United States, and the real view comes after climbing the 256 steps to the top.” Today we have two books that will go along perfectly with a visit to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse or be a fulfilling substitute until you can make that trip yourself.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Sentinel of the Shoals by Dawson Carr gives the complete history of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from its earliest history to the present day. Since 1871 it has been a welcome sight for sailors entering the treacherous region off North Carolina’s Outer Banks known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. At 208 feet high, it is the tallest lighthouse in the country and one of the state’s most famous landmarks. Through the years, it has withstood the ravages of both humans and nature, weathering numerous violent storms and two wars. But perhaps the gravest threat the structure faced in recent history was the erosion of several hundred yards of beach that once stood between it and the ocean. As powerful tides and rising sea levels increasingly endangered the lighthouse’s future, North Carolinians debated fiercely over how best to save it, eventually deciding on a controversial plan to move the beacon inland to safety. For now, it seems, North Carolinians have succeeded in protecting their lighthouse, as it has protected them for over a century.
You can take a break from nonfiction and learn about Cape Hatteras through Nell Wise Wechter’s young adult novel Taffy of Torpedo Junction. A longtime favorite of several generations of Tar Heels, Taffy of Torpedo Junction is the thrilling adventure story of thirteen-year-old Taffy Willis, who, with the help of her pony and dog, exposes a ring of Nazi spies operating from a secluded house on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, during World War II. For readers of all ages, the book brings to life the dramatic wartime events on the Outer Banks, where German U-boats turned an area around Cape Hatteras into “Torpedo Junction” by sinking more than sixty American vessels in just a six-month period in 1942. Taffy has been enjoyed by young and old alike since it was first published in 1957. (Also check out our omnibus e-book, Nell Wise Wechter’s Stories of the North Carolina Coast for Kids, which includes both Taffy of Torpedo Junction and Teach’s Light by Nell Wise Wechter.)
Be sure to visit some of North Carolina’s many other lighthouses as well, and watch our NC icons tag for more icons and books on the coast as well as the rest of North Carolina.