The Cape Hatteras lighthouse is famous for two main reasons:
1. It is the tallest lighthouse in the US.
2. The functional light first, and then the entire lighthouse, was moved due to encroaching erosion.
The original structure of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was demolished following the construction of a new and improved lighthouse between 1868 and 1870. The new lighthouse became the tallest lighthouse tower in the US, standing 63 metres tall from the base of the foundation to the tip of the roof. By 1935, the tower was badly threatened by the effects of erosion, and attempts to hold back the erosion process through dikes and breakwaters proved futile. For awhile, the tower was abandoned and another light put on a steel tower further inland from the shore. The lighthouse was recommissioned early in 1950 after wooden revetments helped reclaim some of the shoreline, making it safe to use the lighthouse once more.
However, as the shoreline continued to erode, it was decided to relocate the entire tower in 1999. The granite underneath the lighthouse's foundation was mined out and replaced with steel supports. Using hydraulic jacks, these steel supports then moved the entire tower along a system of track beams. The actual removal operation began on 17 June 1999 and was completed several weeks later, on 9 July 1999. The tower was then lowered onto a new concrete pad 883m away, and its temporary steel foundation replaced with brick. The lighthouse survived the move and a ceremonial relighting was held in November that year.