RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — When the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved 15 years ago, the massive stones that held up the famous beacon were left behind at the erosion-prone spot on the Atlantic.
A nonprofit group paid to have the stones engraved with the names of the 83 light keepers, and the stones were then placed in a circle that became a popular spot for weddings and other events. But as erosion continues to threaten the area and sand from storms such as Isabel and Sandy covers the stones, Hatteras Island residents now want the stones moved to the lighthouse.
"Eventually, if they are not moved, they will probably be washed to sea," said Bruce Roberts, co-founder of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, the nonprofit that paid $11,500 to have the 20 or so stones engraved.
"I think in some ways that circle of stones became almost a sacred place," he said of the spot that's become known as the Circle of Stone. "People got married there. It's one of the most special places on the Outer Banks."
The smallest stone weighs about 3,000 pounds, said his wife, Cheryl Shelton Roberts, the society's other co-founder who worked meticulously to make sure each keeper's name was spelled correctly, along with his first year of service. The names include the keepers of this lighthouse and the original one, built in 1803, which no longer exists.
Moving them is no easy job and probably expensive, especially since the Cape Hatteras National Seashore budget is $2 million less than it was in 2010. Instead, the National Park Service says the stones will be uncovered one more time in the spring, making sure they still form a circle, and then will be mostly left to nature's forces.
The stones "will periodically be covered and uncovered" by these processes and may not always be entirely visible, wrote Barclay Trimble, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, in an email to Dawn Taylor, president of the Hatteras Island Genealogical and Preservation Society.
Taylor provided the email to The Associated Press and posted it on a Facebook page for lighthouse keeper descendants.
Trimble maintains that Lighthouse Society members agreed with that decision. But Bett Padgett, president of the lighthouse society, insists they are opposed to the plans.
Continue reading this story on the...