FIRE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

First built in 1826 at the western tip of Fire Island, the 75-foot tall tower proved to be too short to project its beam the desired distance to sea. 
Even after many complaints, nothing was done to improve the situation.  In 1850, the cargo ship Elizabeth ran aground, causing the death of most of the crew.
This loss of life may have been a factor in the Congress creating the Lighthouse Board, in 1852, to monitor all lighthouses of the United States.  Shortly after its creation, the Lighthouse Board authorized the construction of a new tower,  twice as tall as the original.  In 1858, the old tower was torn down and replaced with the taller, 168-foot tall tower that stands today. 

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

A view from Parking Field #5

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

Affectionately known as the "Winking Woman"

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights
The original light's foundation, next to the Boathouse.

This stone foundation marks the site of Fire Island's first lighthouse.  When completed in 1826, the octagonal structure built of Connecticut River bluestone had cost the Federal government $10,000.  At 89 feet above sea level, its beacon could only be seen 14-1/2 miles out to sea.  However, shipwrecks continued to occur.  A newly created U.S. Life-House Board crafted a plan to upgrade the system of lighthouses and lifesaving stations on Long Island.  This lighthouse was replaced with one that was almost twice as tall, with a light that was visible more than twenty miles out to sea.

The first lighthouse was taken down after the present (1858) lighthouse was lit.  The stones of the first lighthouse were used on the terrace of the new lighthouse.  During the 1890's, this base was lined with bricks and a roof was added so it could store water for an adjacent powerhouse.  Today, these stone remains mark the former western tip of Fire Island in the 1820s.
                                                                                                                                                from a sign at the lighthouse

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights
This boathouse was moved in the 1950's by Coast Guard personnel to be used as a garage.

Fire Island Lighthouse www.seathelights.com

A view of the boathouse and the original Fire Island Lighthouse foundation, as seen from the top of the lighthouse.

Fire Island Lighthouse http://www.seathelights.com 

Another view from the top showing the boardwalk.  The Field 5 parking area is in the upper
right corner of this picture.  We had to park there and walk to the lighthouse.

Fire Island Lighthouse http://seathelights.com

The American Flag, as seen from the top of the lighthouse.  The original lighthouse
was approximately the height of the flagpole.

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights
Workers 'over the side' on July 3, 2008.

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

A DCB-224 aero-beacon, with two 1000-watt bulbs, replaces the original First-Order Fresnel Lens.

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

 

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights
A side view of the keeper's quarters.  The lighthouse stands to the left.

Fire Island Lighthouse http://www.seathelights.com

A fresnel lens, inside the Fire Island Lighthouse Museum.

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights 

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

 

 

On the evening of Monday, the 1st day of November next, a first order revolving light will be exhibited for the first time, and on every night thereafter from sunset to sunrise, from the light-house tower now in course of erection at Fire Island Beach, east side of Fire Island inlet, south side of Long Island, N.Y. The illuminating apparatus is of the first order revolving catadioptric of the system of Fresnel, and will produce a brilliant flash once in every minute, which will not be materially different in appearance from the existing light in the old tower at that place, except in the greater brightness of the flash and increased range of the new light.

The light-house tower, which is placed about 200 feet N.E. from the old light-house tower, is built of brick, will be 150 feet in height, of a cream or yellow color, and the light will be about 166 feet above the mean level of the sea.

The old light house tower and keepers' dwelling will be removed immediately after the exhibition of the light from the new tower.

The new light should be seen in ordinary states of the atmosphere, from the deck of a vessel 15 feet above the water, from 21 to 23 nautical miles.

Approximate position of the new light-house tower:
Latitude, 40 37' 53" North
Longitude, 73 12' 51" West

Distances from Fire Island light-house to --

Montauk Point Light-house, 67-1/2 Nautical Miles
Great West Bay Light-house, 35 NM
Sandy Hook Light vessel, - 31 NM
Navesink Lights, - - - - 37-1/2 NM
Barregat Light-house - - 66 NM

 

 

Fire Island Lighthouse - Sea The Lights

 

Fire Island Lighthouse Postcard
Postcard of Fire Island Lighthouse from the collection of Robert D. DaVia
Copies of this postcard are available for sale
here.



Last updated: July 20, 2008

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