Last spring on Martha's Vineyard there was massive operation to rescue a historic beacon. The Gay Head Lighthouse has long been a landmark of the island, but eroding cliffs made made it clear that the lighthouse would have to be relocated in order to ensure preservation.

"The Gay Head Lighthouse is a symbol of the island's maritime heritage," said Len Butler, a long-time resident of Martha's Vineyard and Chairman of the Gay Head Lighthouse relocation committee. "The first lighthouse was built there in 1799—at that time, a lot of our forefathers were whalers, fishermen and merchantmen—and in order to find their way back to the island...this lighthouse was considered a very important structure."

"When it was threatened by erosion, we were made aware of the fact that the Coast Guard had no intention of relocating the light back safely from the edge," Butler added. "It had gotten to the point where it was ready to fall, and they would have demolished the lighthouse and replaced it with a steel tower with a blinking light."

Butler, along with others, joined together to raise the funds required to relocate the 18th century structure, which weighs more than 400 tons. 

Listen to the full interview with Len Butler on WGBH News' Morning Edition, and tune in tonight to WGBH and PBS to watch NOVA's Operation Lighthouse Rescue