HOW DO YOU MOVE A LIGHTHOUSE?
For more than 160 years, the Gay Head Lighthouse on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, USA, has shown seafarers the way. But the ocean is quickly eroding the coast: up to a metre of coastline disappears every year. According to geologists, without intervention the 15-metre-high tower would have tumbled over the cliff later this year. It was an emergency that prompted an unusual rescue mission: the building had to be dragged from danger. To do this, specialist firms using excavators, pickaxes and shovels dug under the foundations. Then they erected steel supports that reached around the tower, before jacking up the 400-ton lighthouse. To move it to a new location, hydraulic hoists were used, as well as more old-fashioned rollers and splints. In 15 minutes, the lighthouse crawled a distance of just 60cm, leaving an overall journey time of 40 hours. In the photo here, the building is still standing on its steel supports because the new foundations aren’t yet ready. The last act was to replace the soil around the lighthouse to erase all traces of the move. Hey presto! The lighthouse was saved – for the time being. After all, in 150 years, the sea will have again eaten away the ground up to its new location. And it’ll be time for another dramatic rescue.