WGBH’s NOVA: OPERATION LIGHTHOUSE RESCUE — Free AdmissionUSA | 2016 | 53 minutes | Not Rated | Documentary
LIMIT OF TWO TICKETS PER PERSON.
On the picturesque bluffs at the very tip of the island of Martha’s Vineyard, disaster looms. The historic Gay Head Lighthouse is soon to become the next victim of the ocean’s relentless erosion of the island cliffs. Built in 1856, the more than 400-ton structure soars 175 feet above the sea. But over the years, storms and the raging ocean have eroded the headland away. With fierce storms and hurricanes only intensifying as the global climate warms, this historic landmark is precipitously close to toppling into the ocean. Now, an epic rescue is underway as a team of engineers attempts to move the iconic red brick structure 134 feet inland to safety. As they race to save this national treasure, discover the geology they encounter, the archeology they discover, and technology they employ in this Lighthouse Rescue.
OPERATION LIGHTHOUSE RESCUE is a NOVA Production by Windfall Films Ltd. (part of the Argonon Group) for WGBH Boston.
Presented by NOVA, a production of WGBH
Paula S. Apsell, Senior Executive Producer, NOVA, Director, WGBH Science Unit
As Director of the WGBH Science Unit and Senior Executive Producer of the PBS science series NOVA (now in its 43rd season), Paula S. Apsell has overseen the production of hundreds of acclaimed science documentaries, including such distinguished miniseries as The Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene, Origins with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Making Stuff with David Pogue. In January 2005, Apsell introduced the critically acclaimed magazine spinoff NOVA scienceNOW. Today, NOVA is the most watched science series on American television, a top website on PBS.org and has won every major broadcasting award, including the Emmy, the Peabody and the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton. Apsell has been recognized with numerous individual awards and has served on several boards including that of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. In 2012 she was journalist in residence at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Len Butler, Chairman of the “Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Relocation Committee” and Chair of the Lighthouse Advisory Board
Resident of Martha’s Vineyard for the last 45 years, Len has a deep emotional connection to the Gay Head Light. Every night, the light has swept through his bedroom window, lulling his children to sleep as they grew. His daughter was married at the lighthouse 10 years ago, but the very spot where she stood has eroded away. Len will not rest until the community’s beloved building is saved for generations to come.
Martha Vanderhoop, Owner of Hatmarcha Gifts, a family business located at the Aquinnah Cliffs, and Member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Lifelong Aquinnah resident, Martha runs a shop next to the lighthouse, selling local products, such as Wampum jewelry and lighthouse souvenirs. She is the latest in a long line of the Aquinnah Wampanoag, the tribe that has inhabited Martha’s Vineyard for over 10,000 years, to work next to the lighthouse. Her grandfather, Charles W. Vanderhoop Senior, was the first and only native American keeper of the Gay Head Light.
Jerry Matyiko, Expert House Movers
Maryland born and raised, Jerry has moved thousands of buildings across a 50 year career- from mansions and boathouses, to airport terminals and Egyptian antiquities. There is no one-way to relocate a structure, so it is up to Jerry to devise custom schemes for each move and the Gay Head Light is no exception. His team must dig the earth out beneath the tower, support it with steel beams and then roll the 400-ton building down tracks to the new site, 134-feet inland!
Richard Skidmore, Gay Head Lighthouse Keeper
For the last 26 years, Richard has maintained the light and ensured it has remained open to the public in all weathers. He is the longest serving keeper of the Gay Head Light, apart from Ebenezer Skiff, who kept the original 1799 wooden lighthouse for 29 years! Richard has been heavily involved in planning the relocation and restoration and kick started the drive to rescue the light after coming across 40 feet of fence that had fallen down the bluff because of erosion.