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Engineering Award of the Year Goes to the Cape Hatteras Move
The lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark and now also a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

The following information is taken from a news release by
Public Information Officer, Bob Woody,
for the National Park Service, Outer Banks Group.

The Cape Hatteras Light Station Relocation Project of Buxton, North Carolina was named the 2000 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The Cape Hatteras Light Station is now not only a National Historic Landmark, but is also is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Presented to the owner of the project, the National Park Service (NPS), at a gala celebration in Washington, D.C., the award recognizes the project for its engineering ingenuity and conservation.

"The relocation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a huge milestone in American history, demonstrating that engineering ingenuity and technical skills can be used to not only ensure the long-term stability of this prominent cultural icon, but also to preserve a way of life for residents dependent on tourism for their livelihood," said ASCE President Delon Hampton, Ph.D., P.E.

The nation's tallest brick lighthouse at about 200 feet, the Cape Hatteras Light Station had been deluged with ocean waves and threatened by inclement weather for such a long time that experts believed it would have succumbed to the ocean within the next decade had it not been relocated last year. Through the years, many different efforts, such as the building of barrier walls in the 1930s and the use of sandbags through the 1980s, had been used in vain attempts to hold back the encroachment of the sea and to mitigate the effects of inclement weather. By 1987, the lighthouse, which had been situated 1,600 feet from the shore when it was activated in 1870, was only 120 feet from the ocean.

After more than 10 years of extensive evaluation and funding skirmishes, the NPS decided in 1989 that the most cost-effective and environmentally sensitive way to preserve the national treasure, including two keeper's quarters and three water cisterns, was to move it a half-mile inland, again placing it 1,600 feet from the shore.

"Besides being an incredible engineering feat, this project spoke volumes about the American spirit. Our generation stepped up to the challenge in the same manner that the Lighthouse Keepers stepped up to the challenge of making the Nation's coastline safe for people who made their living by the sea, " said Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Francis Peltier. "We have, by our actions, passed on to future generations a vessel of the American experience, an icon of what's best about the American character, a tangible object that our grandchildren and their children can visit and touch. We have provided a window through which they can view the greatness of our national past and come to know who we are as a people and a nation."

Recognizing the unique blend of engineering, construction and conservation skills that would be needed to ensure the structure would be moved safely, the NPS created a design-build team of 22 different types of technical experts, including structural, geotechnical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineers, historic and conservation architects, surveyors, and environmental scientists.

International Chimney Corporation of Buffalo, NY led the team, which included Expert House Movers (Sharptown, Md.); Move Consultant Pete Friesen (Lynden, Wash.); Law Engineering and Environmental Services (Raleigh, N.C. and Kennnesaw, Ga.); DCF Engineering (Cary, N.C.); Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (Northbrook, Ill. and Princeton, N.J.); Seaboard Planning and Surveying (Kill Devil Hills, N.C.); and Quible and Associates (Kitty Hawk, N.C.).

Viewed by more the 20,000 visitors daily, the lighthouse began its journey on June 17, 1999, and arrived at its destination on July 9, 1999, about three weeks ahead of schedule. The beacon is once again 1,600 feet from the shoreline, and will re-opened for climbing to the public on Friday, May 26, 2000.