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America's Ship - The S.S. "United States" (Paul McGehee)
America's Ship - The S.S. "United States" (Paul McGehee)
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (Paul McGehee)

"Cape Hatteras Lighthouse" by Paul McGehee. This iconic North Carolina lighthouse is located on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks, in the town of Buxton. She watches over the Diamond Shoals area of the coastline, where the warm Gulf Stream currents mix with the cold Labrador Current, making for very treacherous waters. Known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" it is the final resting place for many vessels. The first beacon at Cape Hatteras was constructed in 1802 and guided ships along the coast for the next six decades. But over the years that early lighthouse grew into disfavor among mariners who complained of her small, old-fashioned reflector light that couldn't be seen from a distance until it was too late. Numerous attempts at improving the beacon's reflectors were made. Finally it was decided to build a new, taller lighthouse tower near the existing one. The new Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was constructed of brick under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers over a two-year period, and stood an impressive 210' tall. At the time it was the tallest brick tower structure in the world. For the next 65 years the Hatteras Lighthouse did her best to keep shipping away from the dangerous shoals, with her powerful beacon cutting through the dark of night. In daylight hours, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse's distinctive black-and-white "barber pole" color scheme assisted mariners in identifying the light from a distance. Year after year, however, the giant lighthouse was fighting a losing battle...a battle against erosion and the shifting, shrinking shoreline. In 1935 the water was so close to the base, safety concerns instigated the construction of a metal framework "skeleton tower" behind it to take over the lighthouse's duties. During World War II the brick tower was used as a Coast Guard lookout point, to keep an eye out for any German U-Boats that might appear offshore to mount attacks in the shipping lanes or on the mainland. By 1950, the brick tower was again deemed safe and new equipment was installed to light her beacon once more. For almost the next half-century she stood, a proud symbol of the Carolina coast. As fate would have it, though, she would once again be threatened by the encroachment of the pounding surf. By the end of the 1990s the waves were hitting just 15' from the tower's base. It was decided to physically move the historic lighthouse in order to save it from imminent disaster. In a massive engineering project, the 5,000-ton brick tower was underpinned to a platform and placed on a slowly moving track which guided her to her new location 1,500' inland. The risk of collapse was great during the move, but the old lighthouse made it completely intact! The feat still holds the record for the tallest masonry structure ever moved. Today, the venerable Cape Hatteras Lighthouse shines her light from her new home, maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Park Service. "Cape Hatteras Lighthouse" is faithfully reproduced as an archival-quality print from McGehee's original color pencil drawing, each hand-signed by the artist. Edition size 500 S/N. Print image size: 10 1/2" x 15 5/8".

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