Just before noon on Thursday the Gay Head Light departed the spot where it has stood for 159 years. The Island’s oldest lighthouse is now headed for its new home about 175 feet from the eroding clay cliffs. The brick-and-mortar lighthouse is rolling slowly along a 100-ton steel frame.
Just before noon on Thursday, the Gay Head Light departed the spot where it has stood for 159 years. The Island’s oldest lighthouse is now slowly headed for its new home about 175 feet from the eroding clay cliffs.
The Gay Head Light move is now expected to begin around mid-day Thursday, project managers for the relocation project said today. Favorable soil and weather conditions and the fine-tuned coordination of contractors working at the site has put the project well ahead of schedule.
About 3,500 tons of soil, boulders and clay have been removed from around the Gay Head Light and its new location 129 feet to the east. Contractors are now working to install steel beams underneath the lighthouse. The move is expected to begin in early June.
With the Gay Head Light relocation project under way and temporary parking rules in place at Aquinnah Circle, shop owners at the cliffs are hoping to weather the changes and eventually to benefit from the publicity surrounding the move.
Site preparation for the Gay Head Light relocation is progressing quickly, with the excavation work nearly complete, and the actual move now planned to begin on June 10. The lighthouse now sits 46 feet from the eroding Gay Head Cliffs.
As the Gay Head Lighthouse begins its relocation, a similar, if much smaller, move is being prepared. The original Gay Head lantern will be moved from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s Edgartown location to Vineyard Haven.
After more than two years of planning, the Gay Head Light relocation project got under way early this week — and then encountered a new hurdle with the discovery of soil contaminated by lead. Permanently removing the contaminated soil is expected to cost about $600,000, but most of the soil is expected to be removed only temporarily.
The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has approved an 11th-hour conservation plan for protecting the endangered broad tinker’s weed near the Gay Head Light, clearing the way for the final phases of the relocation project. Ground-breaking for the project is expected to take place Monday.