Keeper's Quarters at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse consist
of a two-story brick house for the head keeper (3 views
at left), and a two-story wood duplex for the assistant
keepers (2 views at right). The interior of the head Keeper's
Quarters is being restored and is not presently open,
though you can look in through the windows. The duplex
serves as a museum and gift shop, and both floors are
open to the public.
assistant keeper's duplex
interior is all wood paneling and wood floors, even
wood ceilings. The photos at right show the east
side stairs to the second floor, and a second floor
room used for museum displays. One of those displays is
this handsome brass
Lyle gun seen below. With its wooden "carriage" it
weighs almost 200 pounds.
sections of a 1st
Order Fresnel lens are also on display, seen in the
photo at right. The lenses are made up of many dozens
of individual finely ground glass prisms. Each prism is
mounted at the optimum angle within a framework to capture
the light from the beacon and focus it in a horizontal
beam. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse used to have a 1st Order
Fresnel lens, as Bodie Island and Currituck Beach Lighthouses
still do. Now Cape Hatteras (and Cape Lookout) Lighthouse
uses dual rotating airport beacons, back to back, separated
by a panel. This can be plainly seen in the photo at left
beacons at left are separated by a piece of plywood
painted black. This black plywood and one of the white
beacon lanterns can be seen above the heavy metal flooring
mesh in the photo at right. This photo was taken looking
up from the top floor of the lighthouse just inside the
door to the gallery. The large fluted metal cylinder with
the decorative grille work around the top edge held the
1st Order Fresnel lens. It is evident there was pride
in the work being done back in 1870. Even machinery, hidden
high atop a lighthouse where no one but the lighthouse
keeper would see it, was embellished with artistic and
The photo at right is a wider angle
shot, showing the whole unit, with gears and rollers,
which allowed it to turn using a weighted drive mechanism,
somewhat like the weights and chains inside a grandfather
clock. The steps from this work room up to the lantern
room are visible to the left of the gray mechanism in
to the top of the lighthouse to see the beacon and get
a view from the gallery is half the fun. But you obviously
have to start at the bottom. It's here that an appreciation
of the fine workmanship that went into building this lighthouse
begins. The grand scale of the
entrance (photo above) is unrivaled among North Carolina's
other lighthouses. Here the fine workmanship is quite
evident. The granite
is carved and shaped to slope away from the door frames,
as seen at right.
stonework and brick octagonal base was surely meant
to impress, in spite of the remoteness of the structure
in 1870. Why would anyone build something with such grand
detail on an isolated island with practically no one to
see it up close but a few resident fishermen and the keepers?
Taking such pride in craftsmanship seems to be a thing
of the past. But thankfully we can still see today the
wonderful workmanship that went into Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Entering the doorway (above right)
we see the floor
is tiled in black and white marble. On the left wall
is a marble
plaque, shown in a close-up at left, giving the construction
date and original coordinates of the lighthouse.
The "well", in the center
of the base floor (photo at right), is where the weights
that powered the beacon rotating mechanism were lowered
for inspection and servicing. In the alcove part-way up
the first flight of steps is a square red drum, used for
storing lantern oil. There are more of these alcoves at
the base made for oil storage containers, but only one
presently has a container in it.
of the base from just above the 1st landing.
of the 1st flight of stairs and 1st landing from a base
and banister detail view.
the unrestricted view at Bodie Island and Currituck Beach,
the landings at Cape Hatteras alternate sides, limiting
the view to two flights.
step riser is
decorated with this
risers bolt together
in modular fashion much
like Bodie Island and
matter how you look at it, the stair view is limited.
better view of the oil storage canister.
Window alcoves become shallower as you reach the top.
The very last flight
of steps is cased
floor of every landing is marble, just like the first
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is masterfully
constructed and richly detailed, and is certainly worthy
of being the most famous lighthouse in the world. It is
a marvel in every respect. But respect is the one thing
the park service forgot when laying out the facilities
in the new location. There can be no arguing that the
park service made regrettable errors in its arrangement
of buildings and parking at the lighthouse's new home
after the move.
The only unobstructed view of the
lighthouse in its new home is from the front of the assistant
Keeper's Quarters. Every other half-decent view is either
too far away, or obstructed by something. Just take a
look at this view
from the parking lot, shown at right. Does this not
look like a carnival? Why were the restrooms and bookstore
placed in front of the lighthouse? Do people come to see
the lighthouse or the restrooms?
Yes, folks. Hurry, hurry, hurry.
Step right up, get in line and buy your ticket to see
the famous lighthouse. It's only six bucks, and it'll
buy you five minutes at the top. All you have to do is
climb 257 steps. That's a bargain, isn't it?