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Historic Gay Head Lighthouse completes 135-foot move

Workers move the Gay Head Lighthouse about 50 feet from its original footing (at center between the rails) in Aquinnah, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Thursday, May 28, 2015. The 160-year-old lighthouse started its gradual 135-foot march to a new home slightly further inland. The $3.4 million effort to move and save the structure was due to fear that it could tumble down a rapidly-eroding cliffside. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

AQUINNAH, Mass. (AP) — A historic Martha’s Vineyard lighthouse arrived at its new location on Saturday after a painstaking 135-foot move from the edge of an eroding cliff.

Richard Pomroy, manager of the relocation project, said the 160-year-old Gay Head Light landed at its new location at 11:10 a.m. and lined up “beautifully dead center” on the concrete pad that will be its new home.

The nearly $3.5 million project is expected to protect the lighthouse from the threat of erosion for at least another 150 years.

Its journey began Thursday when a seasoned team of lighthouse movers used powerful hydraulic pistons to push the 400-ton, 52-foot tall structure along steel rails at roughly 5-foot increments.

At the finish, Pomroy said, a Dixieland band played at a champagne christening for hundreds of spectators. “It’s been a revolving door all day long,” he said.

Pomroy said the next phase begins Wednesday when a new foundation will be started. Crews will also break down the moving apparatus, repair the brick-and-mortar lighthouse, and restore the scoured-out land around it.

He said it’s hoped the beacon will be relit by early July.

The lighthouse sits near brightly colored cliffs at the western edge of the resort island that was once a whaling center.

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