BUXTON, N.C. (AP) _ On the road for three weeks, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse neared its new home Wednesday, a safe 1,600 feet from the rough Atlantic surf.

Unpacking and settling in will take several more weeks.

Pushed by hydraulic jacks along a set of rails and rollers, the nation's tallest lighthouse was just 108 feet from the edge of the new steel-reinforced concrete pad on which it will sit.

Since the move began June 17, the 208-foot spiral-striped tower has traveled 2,900 feet diagonally from its old home, where it stood on a badly eroded beach a precarious 150 feet from the Atlantic's booming waves.

The National Park Service decided to spend $10 million to move the 4,800-ton landmark before it tumbled into the sea. Others feared the move itself would cause the 129-year-old brick tower to crack or fall over, but the lighthouse appeared to be in good shape.

In the next phase of the project, crews will build a new foundation of up to 140,000 bricks, a job expected to take two months.

The lighthouse once guided ships in the treacherous waters off Cape Hatteras, known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. But with the advent of electronic and satellite navigation, the beacon is seldom used.

The Park Service plans to re-light the lighthouse's twin beacons on Labor Day and reopen it to the public next Memorial Day.

Ken and Sandy Gold of Beloit, Wis., marveled at the epic project.

``It's like I was telling my grandson, who is 4: Some old things are really good and some aren't,'' Mrs. Gold said.

The move was expected to take four to six weeks, but it took only three because the contractors came up with a quick way of attaching and unattaching the jacks without bolting and unbolting them.

The lighthouse is expected to be eased onto a platform over the new pad Friday or Monday.