The Gay Head Lighthouse move is underway as the 160-year-old structure was hoisted about six feet off the ground and placed on a steel and wooden platform ready for its journey this week. Crews hoisted the iconic Martha’s Vineyard beacon of light onto a platform that will slowly roll the 52-foot-high structure to its new mooring.
The concrete slab mooring waits at the end of this 129-foot journey inland. Yes, you read this correctly, it will be moved only 129-feet, which is enough to keep the historic structure safe, reports MSN News on May 28.
The 400-ton brick-and-mortar lighthouse stood a little over 40 feet from the Gay Head cliffs. The cliffs are quickly eroding from the rough ocean waves that are slowly nipping away more of the real estate this lighthouse stands on. In time if nothing were done, the cliff’s edge would creep closer to the lighthouse and nothing could detour the iconic beacon from tumbling into the sea. This move is making sure that won’t happen, according to News Max today.
Advocates for moving this lighthouse feared this beacon of light had two years at best surviving where it stands now before being claimed by the ocean below with the ground giving way. The massive undertaking consists of slowly rolling the lighthouse on a network of steel beams and rollers powered by hydraulic jacks.
The journey will take until Saturday as they slowly roll the lighthouse inland 129 feet southeast from its original mooring. That 129-foot move inland will keep the lighthouse safe from the ocean below which can be cruel to the land above it and the structures standing on that land.
Advocates for this move worried that if they waited any longer the lighthouse would have been too close to the cliff to safely move it. At that point all anyone could do is wait for the sea to claim this historic landmark of Martha’s Vineyard.
The push to get this move underway became even more apparent with recent landslides taking down Gay Head Cliffs at a rate of several feet per year. For 160 years the Gay Head Lighthouse helped navigate whaling ships into harbor with its bright light through inclement weather and darkness.
This neck of the woods of Massachusetts was a whaling community and the ships counted on that lighthouse during the years of the whaling heyday. The Gay Head Lighthouse lit the night and stormy skies to guide the ships safely away from the rocks and cliffs. From pirates to shipping moguls, that lighthouse was a beacon in the darkness welcoming all into port and keeping those passing through safely away from the rocky coastline. The stories that lighthouse could tell if she could only speak!