By Teuta Shabani Towler on October 2, 2012
Approximately 120,000 people have climbed the iconic lighthouse in 2012.
Built in 1870, the lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast. Offshore of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada.
These powerful current forces southbound ships into a dangerous 12-mile-long sandbar called the Diamond Shoals. Hundreds and possibly thousands of shipwrecks in this area have given it the reputation as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
In 1999, after years of study and debate, the Cape Hatteras Light Station was moved 2,900 feet in 23 days and now sits 1,500 feet from the seashore, its original distance from the sea.
The National Park Service currently maintains the lighthouse and the keepers’ quarters. The U.S. Coast Guard operates and maintains the automated light