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"Sixty Foot Granite Memorial Now Towers High Above Sea Level On Scene of Man's Victory Over Air", The Daily Advance (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 18 November 1932
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Towers High Above Sea Level On Scene Of Man's Victory Over Air
Has powerful Lamp in Revolving Beacon to Flash Cheery Messages to Those Who
Travel at Night
SHAPED LIKE STAR
Monument Rests on Solid Concrete Base Which is Sunk 35 Feet Into Sands of
Kill Devil Hill
Resting on a concrete foundation which strikes 35 feet down in to the
center of the hill, and built around a concrete core, the Wright memorial
beacon today rises 60 feet above the summit of Kill Devil Hill, forever
marking the spot where aviation was born.
In its tower, 151 feet above sea level, a 1,000 watt electric lamp will
provide light for the revolving beacon that will flash its message of
cheer to the night traveller [traveler],
whether on sea, highway or in the air. The pylon itself will be lighted by
11 flood lights [floodlights] of 500 watts each
that surround it.
Suggested perhaps by the insignia of the air corps, the memorial stands on
a five pointed [five-pointed] starshaped [star shaped] base, paved with durex blocks going
down 12 feet into the sand.
The granite shaft of which the shaft is constructed is North Carolina
stone, the pink granite coming from Salisbury and the white variety having
been quarried in Mt. Airy. The blocks were placed around the concrete
core, much as bricks are used to convert a frame house. In finishing the
interior the same procedure was followed.
Each stone was cut at the quarry for its proper place and was handled 10 or
12 times before being set. The outside of the pylon is finished in six-cut
work, while the interior has a sand blast finish.
The walkway coming up to and around the monument is paved with blocks made
from beach gravel and cement. These walkways approach the monument from
the rear and then circle to the front, where the monument may be closed by
double doors of panelled [paneled] stainless
steel. On the four panels of each door a sculptor has depicted man's
efforts at flight, including Icarus, whose wings, according to legend,
were melted off when he flew too near the sun. The kite, the glider, the
balloon, and so on are suggested and the climax is reached in today's
[Caption] Erected on the top of Kill Devil
Hill, this granite pylon commemorates the victory over air of Orville and
Wilbur Wright. It rises 60 feet in the air and rests on a sunken
Inscriptions on Monument
On the outside of the monument appears this inscription:
IN COMMEMORATION OF THE CONQUEST OF THE AIR BY THE BROTHERS WILBUR AND
ORIVILLE WRIGHT CONCEIVED BY GENIUS ACHEIVED BY DAUNTLESS RESOLUTION AND
The first four lines of the inscription appear on the south side of the
monument, just above the doors closing the entrance. On each side of the
monument, on the facing just above the base appears one of the other three
Entering the monument one
Bermuda and Bitter-tannic
goes into a pink-walled, black floored [black-floored] Memorial room, entirely finished in
granite of beautiful quality. Directly opposite the entrance is a large
niche which will contain a small model of the original machine. On each
side of the entrance is a smaller niche, each of which is to contain a
bust of one of the brothers.
The interior is lighted by 32 lights in the dome and from the Memorial room
a circular stairway leads up to the map room, the electric panel room and
the observation platform.
On the east side if the room is this inscription:
THE LONG TOIL OF THE BRAVE IS NOT QUENCHED IN DARKNESS NOR HATH COUNTING
THE COST FRETTED AWAY THE ZEAL OF THEIR HOPES
O'ER THE FRUITFUL EARTH AND WATER THE SEA
On the west side is carved this:
FROM A POINT NEAR THE BASE OF THIS HILL WILBUR AND ORVILLE WRIGHT LAUNCHED
THE FIRST SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT OF A POWER DRIVEN AIRPLANE DECEMBER
SEVENTEENTH IN NINETEEN HUNDRED AND THREE
maps showing Flights
The map room, immediately over the Memorial room contains a stainless steel
table n which there is a map showing all the notable flights in the first
quarter of a century of aviation's history, beginning with the flight of
the Wrights n December 17, 1903, and ending with Kingsland Smith's Oakland
to Brisbane hop in 1928.
The other flights shown on the map are: The Wrights, Dayton, 1904-1905,
Farman, Chalones-Remis, 1908; Wright Brothers, Paris, 1909; Wright
brothers, Rome, 1909, Wright Brothers, Berlin, 1909; Wright Brothers, New
York, 1909; Bleriot, Barques to Dover, 1909; Paulhon, London to
Manchester, 1910; Curtis, Albany to New York, 1910; c.p. Rogers. New York
to Long Beach, 1911; Garros, Frejus to Bizerte, 1913; U.S. Navy NC4, New
Foundland to Azores to Lisbon to Plymouth, 1919; Alcock and Brown, New
Foundland to Ireland, 1919; Ross Smith, London to Australia, 1919; Sac
Dira and Contembo, Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, 1922; U.S. Army, around the
world, 1924; Jerry Rodgers, San Francisco to Maui, Hawaiian Island, 1925;
Byrd, Spitzenbergen to north pole, 1926; Lindbergh, New York to Paris,
1927; De Pinedo, four continent flight, 1927; Mailland and Hagenbergn,
Oakland to Honolulu, 1927; Bremen, Dublin to Greenly Island, 1928.
Leaving the map room one continues on up to the electric panel board
platform, 22 feet above the top of the hill. From here the lighting of the
monument is controlled. Working through this panel board id the
astronomical time switch that will automatically turn on the flood lights
[floodlights] and the beacon lamp 15 minutes
before sunset and will turn them off again 15 minutes after sunrise.
Just below the turret beacon is the observation platform. From here can be
seen Colington to the west, the North end of Roanoke Island to the
southwest, Kitty Hawk and Kitty Hawk Bay, north by west, and Point Harbor
to the northwest. Closer at hand are the fresh ponds and Nags head to the
south and Kill Devil Hill coast Guard Station between the hill and the
About 35 designs were presented to Quartermaster Gen. Frank B. Cheatham. A
jury of awards of the American Institute selected the design of Robert P.
Rodgers and Alfred E. Poor, New York architects, and this design was
approved by the Commission of Fine Arts and the joint Congressional
Jury Selects Design
In selecting the design the jury said that it was "not only the most
original and impressive as seen from land, but would also be extremely
effective as seen from the air. It strongly manifests the dominant motive
suggested in the program, namely a memorial to the birth of human flight."
The cornerstone for the beacon was laid December 17, 1928, by Secretary of
War, Dwight F. Davis. Orville Wright sealed documents and descriptions of
the first flight in a special box and placed them in the stone. The
exercises were presided over by F. Trubee Davison, Assistant Secretary of
war and Congressman Lindsay Warren made the principal address.
Congressman Warren and Senator Hiram Bingham of Connecticut had presented
to congress the original bills which were consolidated into the bill
providing for the monument and passed in 1927.
The site on which the memorial stands was donated by the Carolina
Development Company, and by Frank L. Stick, Charles M. Baker, and Allen R.
Hueth , New Jersey Sportsmen.
The contract was let to Wills, Taylor and Mafera of New York and at noon on
February 4, 1931, Maj. Gen. John L. DeWitt, Quartermaster General of the
Army, turned the first shovelful of earth, signifying the beginning of
Work Begun In 1931
Actual work on the pylon was begun in the late spring of 1931, the first
granite arrived in October and the foundation was completed in the same
month. In September 1932, after 20 months of skillful work, the
contractors were putting on the finishing touches and waiting only for the
arrival of a few electrical fixtures to be installed. The contractors
stated then that the monument would be completed by October.
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