Microcosmal Doomer/Polly Arguments, in 1/50th Time

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Why 1/50th? Because we're only talking about one state here out of the fifty.

But we had Doomers here on an issue not even related to Y2k -- the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse needed to be moved away from the approaching ocean, before the Atlantic toppled it into the sea.

(Doomers didn't originate with Y2k. Nor with this issue.)

MANY people in the state hollered, "DOOM! Doom! It can't be done! No one's ever moved a lighthouse that tall! Can't be done!!"

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest in America, and the most famous in the world. How did this little drama play out?

Let's look at this press release from the American Society of Civil Engineers:






For Immediate Release

For Information Contact:

Robert E. Woody (NPS)

(252) 473-2111x122

Gayle Field (ASCE)

(202) 326-5143

Al Tice (LAW)
(919) 831-8052


(May 8, 2000) -- 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).

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 208 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 1930's and the use of sandbags through the 1980's, 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.).

The highly complex move process required months of engineering, planning and design. More than 800 tons of the granite base of the lighthouse was removed and replaced with steel support towers equipped with hydraulic jacks. The lighthouse was then lifted up six feet and steel support beams installed to form a temporary foundation. One hundred hydraulic jacks acting on rollers that slid along track beams allowed the lighthouse to move easily and be kept level.

Workers compacted the natural sands, placed crushed stone and then steel mats to form a roadway over which the lighthouse was moved. To make the half-mile journey inland to its new home, workers used five hydraulic push jacks to slowly nudge the lighthouse along the track beams in five-foot increments. Once over the new concrete mat foundation, the lighthouse was lowered to the correct level, and the temporary steel foundation was replaced with a structural brick infill.

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 reopen to the public on Friday, May 26, 2000.

Since 1960, OCEA awards have been presented annually to extraordinary engineering projects for their contribution to community well being, resourcefulness in planning and solving design challenges, and use of innovative construction methods. Earlier this year, a six-member panel of prominent engineers and journalists selected the project as one of the winners from among 27 submissions that were nominated by ASCE district directors from across the United States.

The Cape Hatteras Light Station also is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Past OCEA winners include the Interstate Highway H-3 in Hawaii; the Denver International Airport; the Gateway Arch in St. Louis; the Statue of Liberty Restoration; and the World Trade Center.


THAT'S how we deal with things in eastern NC. And this Hatteras event was just a scant few months before Floyd hit here. We dealt with that too.

If you need proof of how Doomer theory is just flat wrong; proof as to how the spirit of man, and of the American citizen, can survive and thrive;

Just make yourself a trip to eastern North Carolina. It's right here, in abundance.

-- Chicken Little (Tar@Heel.YEP), May 23, 2000


and as you can tell, this forum needs a "preview" option something bad. One little missed HTML tag can make a whole post justified-center, when it wasn't meant to be ------ or worse.

-- Chicken Little (panic@isover.net), May 23, 2000.


-- Chicken little (panic@isover.net), May 23, 2000.


-- Chicken Little (panic@isover.net), May 23, 2000.

-- (Cen@t.er?), May 23, 2000.

Thanks. Haven't figured out this Greenspun HTML scenario yet. It sure isn't standard.

I do all the webposting for a non-profit here in NC, and have never once run into problems like those that are encountered here regularly.

Phil, why don't you make your stuff more standard-friendly?

-- Chicken Little (panic@isover.now), May 23, 2000.


I lived in Elizabeth City, NC for several years. That's about 45 minutes driving time from Nags Head on the Outer Banks. Long way from Hatteras.

Great place to visit but I found out I didn't want to live there. Segregation ain't my bag.

The moving of the lighthouse was pretty amazing. Any idea the cost to we the taxpayers?

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), May 23, 2000.

Bingo 1.South Central LA should be more to your liking.

-- Ra (tion@l.1), May 23, 2000.

I doubt it Ra. I crave peace & quiet. From my friend Stan's description, South/Central tends to have a certain noisy quality about it.

Thanks for the tip, though.

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), May 23, 2000.

I am reminded of the Gateway Arch, which construction posed some challenges. (Good thing they haven't tried to relocate it.)

Before I had been to St. Louis, I couldn't understand why the Arch was considered to be spectacular. But though it's been about fifteen years, I still remember the sensation of looking up at the Arch from downtown and feeling its presence, as though it represented some benevolent force. (Disclaimer: I have no connection of any kind with the St. Louis Department of Tourism.)

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), May 23, 2000.


The lighthouse move cost about $12 million. Worth every penny, and more, IMO. Especially in the light of money the gubb'mint wastes on much less worthy projects.

Have been to Eliz. City, but not much. Didn't realize there was that much of a segregation problem there.

I'm reminded of that old saying, that goes something like this:

Down South, they discriminate against blacks as a race; Up North, they discriminate against blacks on a person-by-person basis.

From my personal point of view, I love black folks. (Good black folks, that is; don't like bad white folks either; or any other color) My family owned a tobacco company here from 1927 to 1990, and black people were the work force. Some of the dearest friends and buddies I ever had, or ever will have, were black men who were decades older and wiser than I. Most of them are gone now, and they are sorely missed.

-- Chicken Little (panic@isover.now), May 25, 2000.

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