Live Webcam and Lighthouse Relocation Updates

Live webcams from the move site! Please click arrow in View Size box, and expect a few seconds before live feed appears. Click here for live cam on its own page. Please click here for live cam view from MVTV.  Public viewing: Saturday, May 30, 10 am-4 pm


Click here for regular relocation project updates

The lighthouse has been lifted! Film by Liz Witham of Film-Truth Productions.

The rescue of the lighthouse continues after the move is completed. Extensive restoration will be necessary, so please help us keep the light shining! Click here to contribute.

Gay Head Lighthouse Relocation Slideshow, Week of May 10

  • Rick Pomroy (project manager), Tyler Finkle (International Chimney Historic Preservation & Restoration Engineer), Len Butler (Committee to Save the Gay Head Light building sub-committee chairman)
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Help Us Turn the Light Back On!


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Relocating a 460-Ton Lighthouse Is No Big Deal to This Mega-Mover – Bloomberg News

Jerry Matyiko and Joe Scarfone take measurements at Gay Head Light on Martha’s Vineyard. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg

Chewing a cheap cigar atop an old bulldozer, Jerry Matyiko is at work in his office — the stunning, colorful and rapidly eroding cliffs of Gay Head on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Matyiko is in town to rescue a local treasure.

The 68-year-old Navy veteran moves stuff — big stuff, like airport terminals and multistory office buildings — and he’s come to the Vineyard to do something he’s done before: save an old lighthouse from being lost to erosion and falling into the sea. This time it’s the red brick Gay Head Light built in 1856, a scenic attraction and still a functional beacon for sailors.

Continue reading at Bloomberg News….

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Relocation Webcam Goes LIVE!

Screen shot from live webcam at move site

Screen shot from live webcam at move site

Richard Skidmore, Keeper of the Gay Head Lighthouse, announced today that anybody with an Internet connection, anywhere in the world, can now watch the momentous relocation of the lighthouse. Live. In real time. Just click here to view the webcam feed. In the upper left corner, you can click on the arrow icon in the View Size box to improve resolution. You can scroll around the image as well, to see different parts of the excavation site.

Mr. Skidmore said that Denys Wortman was “integral” to the installation of the webcam.

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Race underway to save Gay Head Lighthouse - Cape Cod Online

  • Gay Head Lighthouse is set to be moved next month. Preparations are underway to make the move. A wooden corset has been wrapped around a portion of the lighthouse to stabilize the brickwork. Merrily Cassidy/Cape Cod Times

    By Doug Fraser

AQUINNAH — After 2½ years of advocacy and nonstop fundraising, the end is finally in sight for members of the Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee.

Thanks to $3 million in donations, taxpayer money and grants, the historic beacon won’t be demolished or tumble over the rapidly eroding cliff. Instead, on June 10, the 400-ton, 160-year-old lighthouse will begin a six-day trek 129 feet inland to a new foundation.

“This island has really come together in an unprecedented way to support this project,” said Megan Bodnar, co-chairwoman of the fundraising committee. “It really has been an amazing outpouring of support.”

The 19th-century whaling trade vastly increase boat traffic around Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. In 1854 Congress approved spending $30,000 to build a new brick lighthouse to replace a wooden one that the second president of the United States, John Adams, had had built in 1799. It was considered the most important lighthouse north of New York at the time because tens of thousands of ships a year passed by on their way from New York to Boston and on the return from whaling voyages, said Len Butler, co-chairman of the lighthouse relocation committee.

Its beam warned passing ships of not only the danger of land nearby but the spine of rocks that extended into Vineyard Sound, causing many shipwrecks in the area.Both the lighthouse and the Gay Head cliffs, with their colorful bands of clay, are on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2013, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the 52-foot-high Gay Head lighthouse as one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the country.

Click for video: Preparations to move the lighthouse

The designation kicked off the $3 million fundraising effort by the town-appointed Lighthouse Committee. There was a sense of urgency to the effort because the lighthouse was nearing the edge, and movers require at least 30 feet of solid ground to use the heavy machinery needed for excavation.

Although the average erosion rate is less than 2 feet a year, the area is subject to slides that cut deep ravines into the cliff face near the lighthouse site. Big winter storms pounded the toe of the cliffs, steepening them, making them more susceptible to collapse at the same time that geologists said groundwater was seeping down into clay layers, making it easier for them to break loose and slide. The lighthouse is now 46 feet from the cliff’s edge.

In February, the town of Aquinnah took ownership of the lighthouse, which will still be maintained as an aid to navigation by the Coast Guard, from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

All six Martha’s Vineyard towns contributed Community of Preservation Act money which, including the state matching funds, totaled $760,000. More than 1,000 private donors, along with benefit concerts, road races, a kayak circumnavigation of the island and even a book of writings and poems about the lighthouse all helped raise $2 million. State and federal grants accounted for the remainder, Bodnar said.

Last week, workers began excavating a deep trench through the 20-foot-high embankment that will be the route the lighthouse will follow to its new home on a thick cement slab that has already been poured. Soon after the trench is completed, they will begin putting down a “road” of wooden timbers and steel over which the lighthouse will pass on steel beams and rollers, pushed by hydraulic jacks at a glacial rate.
“You could put a quarter on the rail and watch it squish,” project manager Tyler Finkle of International Chimney, the company overseeing the move, said of the rails the lighthouse will traverse to its new home.

Even as the lighthouse move begins, fundraising continues because of unexpected costs to deal with lead paint contamination at the site of the demolished lighthouse keeper’s home, and the possibility that the site could be habitat for tinker’s weed, which the state lists as an endangered plant. This past week, Aquinnah town meeting approved allocating $60,000 in Community Preservation Act money for the project, and a large donation from an anonymous donor lowered the deficit to finish the project from $400,000 to $300,000.
— Follow Doug Fraser on Twitter:@dougfrasercct.

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Moving a Landmark: Keeping Gay Head Light Safe From Erosion - NECN!/news/new-england/Moving-a-Landmark:-Keeping-Gay-Head-Light-Safe-From-Erosion/303970901

Nearly 160 years old, Gay Head Light sits at the western end of Martha’s Vineyard – reflecting the latest battle to save part of New England’s history and heritage.

“It ceased to be just an navigational aid a long, long time ago,” said Bow Van Riper of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

The 51-foot brick structure sits atop the colorful Gay Head Cliffs, created 20 millions years ago as the glaciers receded. Erosion is now the biggest worry for the cliffs and Gay Head Light, which is still operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

At a cost of more than $3 million, much of it raised privately, the light is set to be pulled away from the edge of the cliffs, which lose at least two feet every year to erosion.

Gay Head Light is a mere 46 feet from tumbling head over heels into Vineyard Sound.

“Mother Nature’s clock has been ticking and she’s the one that sets the timetable,” said Len Butler of the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee. “We couldn’t take our chances and predict, ‘Oh, we’ve got two feet a year, we’ll be OK for another 10 years. It doesn’t work like that.”

Since the late 19th century, the beacon has been a tourist attraction, drawing people over the years to the remote up-island town of Aquinnah, home to the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head.

Not the original, the light replaced a wooden one that was erected in 1799. Construction of the current lighthouse was completed in 1865 to help ships navigate around the Elizabeth Islands, once consider some of the busiest and dangerous shipping lanes in the country.

“The lighthouse was the reference point that mariners had to be able to pick out the fog and the rain and the gloom in order to safely continue moving east through Vineyard Sound,” said Van Riper.

They expect to begin the move on June 10. The lighthouse will travel 129 feet to its new resting spot, where it is expected to be safe from erosion for at least the next 150 years.

A New York company will move the 450-ton light. Nearly 20 years ago, Highland Light, the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod, was relocated. That was done with a specially designed system of rails. That’s what will happen on the Vineyard, too.

Butler washed ashore in 1970 and raised his family in the shadow of the light. There are four other lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard, but the one in Aquinnah – the oldest one – belongs to the entire island.
“This is not only the town, but it’s also the whole island’s heritage in this light,” said Butler.

It’s not only the island’s heritage – it’s all of New England’s.

By John Moroney
With videographer John Hammann

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Aquinnah Police: No Evening Road Closure After All

Gay Head Lighthouse

Aquinnah Police Chief Rhandi Belain announced today (May 14) that the planned 7 pm-7 am traffic rerouting at the Aquinnah Circle will not be needed. “Traffic will be able to flow in the normal direction and we do not see any need to make Aquinnah Circle two-way traffic,” he said.


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Panorama of Gay Head Light Excavation

gay head light excavation panorama

Panorama of excavation, showing granite foundation – photo by Derrill Bazzy

Click image to see full-size


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