Case Studies

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Buxton, NC - relocation



In 1997 the National Park Service awarded the International Chimney Corp team (which included Expert House Movers, Law Engineering & Environmental Services, Wiss Janny Estner Associates, DCF Engineering, Seaboard Surveying & Planning, and Quible & Associates) the contract for the move of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, including design and execution.

Work began in mid-December of 1998 with mobilization and site set-up and the beginning of operations. Nearly ten acres of move route and new site had to be cleared to prepare for the relocation of the lighthouse to a position over half a mile from its original site.

It was necessary to dig six feet below ground level beneath the lighthouse to expose the granite foundation in order to prepare for the installation of the support frame. A custom-engineered and pressurized temporary shoring system allowed for the threading of massive steel beams underneath the lighthouse to support it during the move. A jacking system consisting of over a hundred 50-ton jacks was used to raise the structure about six feet to allow space underneath for the push jack and rolling carriage system and the shoring.

Nine thousand pieces of oak cribbing were placed beneath the main beams, and once the lighthouse was positioned on the cribbing the jacks were retracted and roll (travel) beams were positioned under the main beams. Push jacks were installed between the main beams and the roll beams, they were activated, and the move began. With each synchronized push the lighthouse moved the length of one push jack arm, covering an average of 130 feet each day.

The keeper's house and the assistant keeper's dulpex had already been placed on the new site by the team. The oil house was positioned after the lighthouse reached its final destination. All three are in the same location, in relation to the lighthouse, as they were at their former location. Three cisterns were also moved intact - quite a feat since the floor of each was laid but not secured with mortar.

The lighthouse began its journey on June 17, 1999, and arrived at its new location July 9. The concrete mat foundation had been constructed and the brick infill was underway when hurricane Dennis struck. Packing winds of up to 130mph and eroding miles of ocean front, Dennis wreaked havoc for a week. The lighthouse stood steady, weathered the storm and was safe at last in its new location.


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