AQUINNAH, Mass. (AP) _ An iconic Martha's Vineyard lighthouse has begun its gradual move from its rapidly eroding cliffside perch.

Powerful hydraulic jacks inched the Gay Head Lighthouse roughly 5 feet along steel rails just before noon Thursday.

The 400-ton brick-and-mortar lighthouse had been lifted off the ground about 6 feet and placed on a wood-and-steel frame for the move.

It's expected to arrive at its final destination about 135 feet away as soon as Saturday.

The 160-year-old beacon protects mariners from the treacherous shoals below. It's among the most endangered historic landmarks in the United States, The project is being paid for with about $3 million in donations and grants.

A beacon has existed on the cliffs since the second U.S. President, James Adams, had one built in 1799.