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Relocation of Martha’s Vineyard lighthouse nearly completed

May 29, 2015

AQUINNAH, Mass. (AP) — An iconic Martha’s Vineyard lighthouse that was dangerously close to tumbling down an eroding cliffside will soon arrive at its new home farther inland.

Workers have been inching back the 160-year-old Gay Head Light from the colorful cliffs since Thursday. It’s now about 12 feet from its final destination — a concrete pad originally about 135 feet away.

Richard Pomroy, the project manager, expects the last leg of the journey to be completed Saturday morning, when the public has been invited to observe the occasion.

“Everything has gone as smooth as silk and as planned,” he said. “We’re very happy about that.”

A seasoned team of lighthouse movers have been using powerful hydraulic pistons to push the 400-ton, 52-foot tall structure along steel rails at roughly 5-foot increments. They covered 50 feet Thursday and about 70 feet Friday, according to Pomroy.

Organizers hope to have the lighthouse, which warns mariners of a treacherous shoal below the cliffs, relit and open by July.

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

Pomroy says some of the hardest work still lies ahead.

It will take weeks for crews to break down the moving apparatus, which included dozens of hydraulic jacks supported by a latticework of wood-and-steel beams. They’ll also have to fix the brick-and-mortar lighthouse, build up a foundation, and restore the scoured-out land around it.

The Gay Head Light is located on the sparsely populated, western edge of Martha’s Vineyard, a famous resort island that was once a center of the country’s whaling trade.

More recently, the beacon and its brilliantly colored cliffside perch have been a must-see destination for tourists.

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