The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Sentinel of the Shoals

Revised and Updated Edition

By Dawson Carr

176 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 31 illus., 2 maps, 6 figs.,, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4876-0
    Published: June 2000
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-0645-3
    Published: September 2012
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7365-1
    Published: September 2012

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Since 1871 the Cape Hatteras lighthouse 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.

First published by UNC Press in 1991, this book tells the story of the noble lighthouse from its earliest history to the present day. In this new edition, Dawson Carr details the recent relocation of the treasured landmark. For now, it seems, North Carolinians have succeeded in protecting their lighthouse, as it has protected them for over a century.

About the Author

Dawson Carr lives in West End, North Carolina.
For more information about Dawson Carr, visit the Author Page.


"The story of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina's most famous landmark, has been told often but never with more vivid and pertinent description than in Dawson Carr's engaging narrative."--North Carolina Historical Review

"The writing is worthy, the images are real, and the scenes are vivid. This book is a must-read."--Outer Banks Magazine

"Made-to-order beach reading. Not only does it deliver the story of North Carolina's most famous lighthouse, it is also chock-full of tidbits about the entire Outer Banks, the history of lighthouses from ancient times, the geologic factors responsible for the Outer Banks, and the mechanics of lighthouses."--North Carolina Libraries

"[Carr] has wisely reminded us that we have a common heritage, a shared purpose, and a reason, however tenuous, for being in this particular place at this particular time. He has written a meticulously researched, enlightening, and agreeably written history of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse."--The Pilot (Southern Pines, NC)