The first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was completed in 1803 for a cost of $38,450 and kept by Adam Gaskins. But within the first year of service, the lighthouse was seeing problems. Oil cisterns were too small, fires destroyed glass lanterns, and erosion already began to tear away at the tower base. Despite contracts for repair, conditions continued to wear away with complaints of poor quality in the 1820s and 1830s. Although faults were corrected in the 1850s, raising the tower 150 feet and providing a new lighting device, Union forces captured the light in 1861 while Confederate soldiers took the lens. After the war, it was determined to be cheaper to build a new lighthouse than fix this one, so the old tower was torn down.