Sunday, June 24, 2012

CAHA Wk 5- Tallest Lighthouse in America - A Guardian of the Sea

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
We as human beings recognize there is much to be learned from our elders, both living and past. They've been around much longer than we have and have experienced so much more. We know their stories are meant to teach us and guide us. What we sometimes forget to realize is that if we take the time to silence the commotion from our lives and sit still long enough to see it, there is history in everything around us. There are stories to be told, journeys to be re-lived, and lessons to be learned. Spending the week with Interpretation gave me the opportunity to be reminded of this. I was able to engulf myself in the history surrounding Cape Hatteras National Seashore. As a result, I can see exactly why the National Park Service has recognized these shores as a place of value.

Cape Hatteras Museum Desk

Interp Ranger after a program

My stay with Interpretation has increased my knowledge of this park greatly. Just by shadowing the incredibly well versed and knowledgeable Interpretive Rangers here at Cape Hatteras, I was able to learn and retain so much incredible information about the park and the surrounding area. I was lucky enough to sit through the wide variety of educational programs offered. Some of the programs I attended were Barrier Island Nature, Pirate Program, Sea Turtle Program, and Sentinel of the Shore. I also took part in more hands-on interactive programs like Fishing, Snorkeling, and a Bird walk. In addition, I spent time in the museum, Visitors Center, and at the base, middle, and top of the lighthouse. I know the interpretive staff is the front line of the park because they spend the most time with visitors. All of the activities I took part in allowed me to interact with visitors and I tried to help make their visit to the park that much more memorable. 

Fishing- One of the many Interpretive Programs
I learned about the journey of the many species of birds that migrate here from places far and wide, the sea turtles who come back to their birthplace to lay their nests, the vegetation that has adapted to the sand blasting climate, the journeys of the shipwrecks that have washed ashore on these beaches, the ever changing shoreline, and the lighthouse that proudly stands here.

                   1803                1853                    1870                     1873              
Evolution of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse    

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse first began its journey in 1803 to protect sailors from the hazardous dangers of the Diamond Shoals that lie right off shore at the point of the island. Right off shores of Cape Hatteras is where the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream collide. This current forces southbound ships into the Diamond Shoals-- a twelve-mile long sandbar. The reputation, "Graveyard of the Atlantic" quickly took hold and the need for a 'guardian of the sea' was eminent. Since 1803, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the light itself has both undergone many alterations and each has a journey all its own. Withstanding hurricanes, earthquakes, erosion, and moved 2,900 feet in one piece in 1999, the lighthouse is still structurally sound and to this day stands proudly looking over the sea. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse withstood both the wrath of mother nature and the irrepressible effects of father time, and is now a heartfelt symbol of the Cape Hatteras Seashore sharing with both its local inhabitants and its visitors the journey it went through and the journeys of others it has protected. 

Guardian of the Sea
The lighthouse beacon today

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