Taking 650 tons for a stroll: Highland Lighthouse
In the mid-1800s, Henry David Thoreau pondered the fate of the Highland Lighthouse in Truro, Massachusetts, where he was a repeat visitor. His prognosis was grim:
"According to the lighthouse keeper, the Cape is wasting here on both sides, though most on the eastern," wrote Thoreau. "In some places it had lost many rods within the last year, and, erelong, the light-house must be moved."
A century and a half later, the keepers took Thoreau's advice.
In July of 1996, big-structure movers and the Army Corps of Engineers united to move the tower 450 feet from its original site. By then, it stood just 125 feet from the edge of Truro Bluff, a quarter of its original distance.
Using steel tracks, hydraulic jacks, and Ivory soap (said to be an environmentally-friendly lubricant), crews pushed the tower roughly 30 feet in the first three hours. From a distance, some spectators said they couldn't tell the landmark had moved at all. It took five weeks to finish the project.
The Highland Lighthouse, currently closed, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The grounds are expected to reopen permanently late this summer or next spring. They will open temporarily the week of May 10.