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Fearing that Federal troops would capture the Fresnel lens in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Confederate soldiers removed it and shipped it inland to Washington, then Tarboro. With the Union threatening destruction of Washington if the lens wasn't returned, Dr. David Tayloe assumed responsibility for the lens and carried it to safety by boxcar to his home in Townsville in what is now Vance County. Tayloe died in 1884. The whereabouts of the forty-five boxes containing the Fresnel lens remain a mystery to this day.