Historic Gay Head Lighthouse completes 135-foot move

31 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Day Three: Cheers All Around as Historic Lighthouse Move Is Complete.

BUFFALO N.Y. – A morning at the park ended in tragedy Saturday, when a car travelling on the 1-98 struck two young children, killing one and leaving the other fighting for her life.With the smash of a champagne bottle and loud cheers all around, the Gay Head Light came to rest Saturday directly above the spot where experts believe it will be safe from erosion for 150 years or more.The lighthouse move began Thursday morning with much fanfare, attended by members of the press on the ground and in the air, filmmakers and a group of school children from Chilmark.

— An iconic Martha’s Vineyard lighthouse that was dangerously close to tumbling down an eroding cliffside will soon arrive at its new home farther inland. The three-day move, which started well ahead of schedule, is the most significant milestone in the efforts to preserve and restore the historic lighthouse. By late in the day the 1856 brick tower had been traveled 52 feet of the 129-foot journey that will end on a new concrete pad well to the east of the eroding cliffs. Shrouded in fog, earlier in the morning the 400-ton brick and mortar lighthouse stood less than 20 feet from its destination above a large concrete pad southeast of eroding clay cliffs. By Friday afternoon under a cloudless sky, International Chimney and Expert House Movers, the two main contractors for the move, had moved the lighthouse nearly to the pad.

We’ve done this a number of times with houses in the past, and we’re very confident we won’t have any pitfalls.” “We have landscape reformation that needs to take place along the bluff, and we’re going to keep our schedule moving as quickly and safely as possible. At first the plan called for working until nightfall to finish the job, but then it was decided that work will begin again very early Saturday morning. Richard Pomroy, the project manager, expects the last leg of the journey to be completed Saturday morning, when the public has been invited to observe the occasion.

Crews painstakingly dug under the lighthouse earlier this month to lift it about 6 feet off the ground, using a network of hydraulic jacks and wood-and-steel beams. A seasoned team of lighthouse movers have been using powerful hydraulic pistons to push the 400-ton, 52-foot tall structure along steel rails at roughly 5-foot increments. The beacon, located on the sparsely populated, western edge of the resort island, has been a critical waypoint for mariners since the peak of the whaling trade in the 19th century, warning ships of the coastline and treacherous shoal that extends about a half-mile into the water. Mallory Butler, whose husband Len Butler has stood at the helm of the lighthouse relocation project since its inception two years ago, recalled the many late nights her husband spent in front of a computer and the many unseen hours of preparation that went into the project.

At around 11:15 a.m., the gas generator that powers a pneumatic pump connected to two large hydraulic jacks started up and the lighthouse was again moving. Within two years, advocates feared, it would have been too close to the edge to move safely. “This was a proud symbol of our maritime heritage,” said Len Butler, chairman of a town committee overseeing the relocation project. “We couldn’t let that happen.” The roughly $3.4 million project is being paid for largely through donations, grants and state and federal funding, though supporters say they’re still about $200,000 shy of their fundraising mark. Some of the visitors Saturday had observed all three days of the move — under clouds, blue sky and now fog — and eagerly awaited the final moment. Hayes learned last week of the accelerated schedule, he immediately made plans to be on the Island. “It was a fire drill,” he said of the process of arranging a dog sitter and booking ferry tickets.

Skidmore pointed toward a large truck parked beside the lighthouse. “You’ll know when it’s moving when that yellow truck starts to make noise over there,” he said. “That means the hydraulic pressure is being brought up to a level that can push the lighthouse along.” Several black hoses ran from the truck to the 16 hydraulic jacks beneath the lighthouse and the two larger jacks that provide forward motion. Butler explained that the lighthouse travels along the beams at about one inch per minute, in increments of about five-feet. “It’s a bunch of little pushes,” he said. “They did that 10 times yesterday so they moved it a little over 50 feet.” Mr.

People lined up against the metal barriers, and also to the right and left, where wooden silt fencing marked the excavation boundaries, and held up their cellphones and cameras to capture the action. Below the lighthouse, a single plumb bob hung down, almost touching the concrete pad, where a nail wrapped in pink tape marked the center of the new location.

Matyiko, who sat nearby in a small bull dozer, suggested that the students sign a piece of paper that will be buried underneath the lighthouse in its new location. Following the toast and continued cheers from the crowd below, the crew and committee members threw their plastic hardhats, as if celebrating a graduation.

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