Fire Island Lighthouse
Posted by American Lighthouses on 6th Oct 2020
In Suffolk county New York, below Long Island sits a lighthouse that is near the mainland of Fire Island. The history of this lighthouse dates back to 1826. It was in that year that the cream, octagonal lighthouse was finished. This lighthouse was made out of Connecticut River blue split stone and was only 74 feet tall. Not being overly tall, created the problem of not being as effective as it should have been, so the lighthouse was torn down.
To this day all that is left of that first lighthouse is a circle of bricks and stones that show where the original lighthouse once stood. However, the other stones that once made the original lighthouse where reused for the terrace of the new lighthouse. This new lighthouse was built around 6 miles west of the original spot.
It was in 1857 that Congress set aside $40,000 for the construction of the new lighthouse. A year later the lighthouse was complete, and this time it stood at 168 feet tall, making it much more effective. The lighthouse was made out of bricks that were painted a creamy-yellow color. Later in August of 1891 the lighthouse was painted with a day-mark of black and white bands, which is what the lighthouse is painted to this day.
November 1, 1858 the new Fire Island lighthouse was lit for the first time. It had a Funk Lamp that had 5 wicks. It also had a First Order Fresnel Lens, that created a flash of light every minute. Around September of 1938, electricity was brought to the lighthouse.
Eventually the use of the lighthouse was replaced by the putting of a "small flash tube optic" on the top of the Robert Moses State Park Water Tower, on December 31, 1973. Since the lighthouse was no longer used the Coast Guard gave the National Park Service a 5 year permit to use all the land of the lighthouse. From 1974-1980 private individuals did what they could to save the lighthouse.
On May 25, 1986 the lighthouse was restored to its 1939 condition. The lighthouse was also officially reinstated as an official aid to navigation. The reason for this was because the light on top of the water tower only shone towards the sea, and it did not shine any light in the direction of the Great South Bay. This gave a use for the once retired lighthouse.
The National Park Service turned the upkeep of the lighthouse over to the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society in December of 1996. Then in January of 2006 the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society also took over the ownership and maintenance of the light.
Today the Fire Island Lighthouse is lit by two 1,000 watt bulbs. These lights rotate in a counter clockwise motion, which causes a flash every 7.5 seconds. The light from the lighthouse can still be seen today from 21-24 miles away.