World of Knowledge (Australia) - - Questions & Answers -

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.

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