Fodor's Expert Review Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Authorized by Congress in 1794 to help prevent shipwrecks, this was the first lighthouse built in the region. The original structure was lost to erosion and Civil War damage; this 1870 replacement, 30 miles south of Rodanthe, is, at 210 feet, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. Endangered by the sea, in 1999 the lighthouse, with its distinctive black-and-white spiral paint and red-and-tan base, was raised and rolled some 2,900 feet inland to its present location. A visitor center is located near the base of the lighthouse. In summer the Museum of the Sea in the former keeper's quarters is open, and you can climb the lighthouse's 257 narrow steps to the viewing balcony. Children under 42 inches tall aren't allowed to climb. Offshore lie the remains of the USS Monitor, a Confederate ironclad ship that sank in 1862.