Need to Save a Lighthouse from Erosion? Just Pick It Up and Move It


About six years ago, Richard Skidmore, longtime keeper of the Gay Head Lighthouse in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, discovered that 40 feet of fencing around the lighthouse had disappeared—falling down onto the cliffs below. That’s when he knew his beloved workplace needed some help.

What followed was a long journey toward saving Gay Head Lighthouse from tumbling into the Atlantic. Skidmore enlisted a team, which then raised funds, got city approval, and did something that seems baffling even when you watch the video above: they picked up the 160-year-old structure, and they moved it.

The preservation of Gay Head Lighthouse isn’t just in the interest of history, it’s still used for maritime navigation. The 134-foot relocation will keep Gay Head Lighthouse safe from erosion for at least another 100 years. The $3 million move happened last year, and the building will open once again to the public this Memorial Day.

It’s technically not the first time the lighthouse has been moved (moving lighthouses, while incredible, is not as rare as you might think).

To learn more about how the team moved the 400-ton building (it involved 16 hydraulic jacks, a steel track, a couple of days, and a whole lot more), check out a recent episode of PBS’s NOVA called “Operation Lighthouse Rescue” and this great long read from our friends at Popular Mechanics. There’s also a documentary on the lighthouse in the works (the video above is a teaser).

[h/t: Popular Mechanics]

Banner image: Williamwaterway, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0