Logo   Sankaty Light, Nantucket MA
Sankaty Light's foundation was on shifting sand, so they picked it up (450 tons) and moved it.  


Sankaty Lighthouse has stood atop Nantucket's Sankaty Head for a century and a half (since 1850), guiding mariners and also bikers and walkers in need of a landmark.

It was sited 250 feet (76 meters) inland from the shore and built on the sand that composes most of the island, but through a century and a half of service, the ocean has gobbled much of Sankaty Head.

As the sea came closer and closer to the historic monument, threatening to topple it over a cliff, something needed to be done.

A group of six residents of Siasconset took the lead, formed Save Our Sankaty, and raised nearly $4 million to do the job.

After more than a decade of planning and negotiations, the legal work was done. Save Our Sankaty hired International Chimney of Buffalo NY and Expert House Movers of Virginia Beach VA to move the 450-ton (408 metric ton) lighthouse nearly 400 feet (122 meters) farther inland to a new reinforced concrete foundation sunk in land donated by the Sankaty Head Golf Club. These companies had already moved four lighthouses in other places, so they had the necessary experience.

By August 2007 the sea had eaten away Sankaty Head to within 76 feet (23 meters) of the lighthouse. The movers required a minimum of 67 feet from the cliff, so the move comes just in time: one big storm could have made it impossible to save Sankaty Light.

By September 2007 the lighthouse was reinforced inside, girdled with steel cable on the outside, and raised on huge steel H-beams and oak cribbing, awaiting the slow but steady move on a clever and complicated system of rollers to its new foundation:

Sankaty Lighthouse raised, Nantucket MASankaty Lighthouse (450 tons)
raised on H-beams and oak cribbing.

Bike to Sankaty

You can visit Sankaty Light on a bike. From the Milestone rotary (traffic circle), follow the Siasconset bike path, then follow the Polpis road northeast toward Polpis, Quidnet and Sankaty Light. More...

—by Tom Brosnahan

Nantucket Beaches

What to See & Do

Nantucket History

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Getting to Nantucket

About Nantucket


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Sankaty Lighthouse, Nantucket MA

Above, Sankaty Light in 2005.

Sankaty Light, Nantucket MA

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