Esopus Meadows Lighthouse
The Esopus Meadows Lighthouse was nicknamed the “Maid of the Meadows.” It was finished in 1871 to replace one built in 1839 that was in ruinous condition. A lighthouse was needed to warn mariners of the mud flats, known as the Esopus Meadows, located between it and the western shore of the Hudson River. As the lighthouse was and is only accessible by water, it was created as a “family lighthouse.” The keeper and his family were living within the structure. The keeper’s house consisted of seven rooms with a kitchen, dining and sitting room on the first floor, and bedrooms on the second. The Esopus Meadows Lighthouse is the only lighthouse built with a wood frame and clapboard exterior remaining on the Hudson River.
The lighthouse was tended by family keepers as part of the Lighthouse Service until around World War II when the Coast Guard took over the Lighthouse Service. The Coast Guard manned the station until 1965. At that time the tower light was replaced with a solar powered navigation aid on the deck and the house was abandoned. Although only accessible by boat, without the care of resident keepers, the lighthouse decayed under the ruinous hands of vandals and Mother Nature.
In 1979 the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration began in 1990 with the formation of Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission (SELC) and leasing of the lighthouse from the Coast Guard. Under direction of Arline Fitzpatrick funds were raised for extensive carpentry and roof repair. SELC was reorganized in 1997 and restoration continued. By the fall of 2000 a major milestone was reached with completion of the stabilization and leveling of the lighthouse.
More milestones occurred in July 2001 when the organization received a New York State Board of Regents provisional charter as a museum in the name of Esopus Meadows Lighthouse (EML). Then in September 2002 the deed to the lighthouse was formally presented to EML.
Possibly the most rewarding milestone occurred on May 31, 2003 when the Coast Guard reinstalled a navigation light in the tower and Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, after 38 years of darkness, again became an active navigation aid.
Restoration work has continued, mostly by volunteers, and has progressed to the point that scheduled tours began in the summer of 2010. While tours have started, there is still a bit more restoration that needs to be completed, routine maintenance to be performed, and various help for running the tours. For more information, to volunteer, or take a tour call 845-848-3669. More information is also available at www.EsopusMeadowsLighthouse.org.
One of the great ladies of the Hudson River, the Saugerties Lighthouse has been guiding ships on the mighty river since 1869. As a navigational aid it was decommissioned in 1954. Restoration began after it was purchased by the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy in 1986.
The Saugerties Lighthouse has two other distinctions among the lighthouses of the Hudson River. First, it is the only lighthouse that welcomes overnight guests, making it the most unique B&B in the Valley. Second, it is the only lighthouse that you can stroll out to overland. The lighthouse can be reached using the nature preserve lying between it and the mainland.
The first lighthouse of the Esopus Creek at Saugerties was built in 1838 with funds from Congress. It was built to guide ships away from nearby shallows and into the Esopus Creek when Saugerties was a major port with daily commercial and passenger transportation. The light was five whale oil lamps with parabolic reflectors.
The present lighthouse was built in 1869. It sits on a massive circular stone base sixty feet in diameter. A sixth-order Fresnel lens was used with kerosene lamps. The foundation for the original lighthouse remains as a small island adjacent to the existing lighthouse. Automation of the light in 1954 made light keepers obsolete. The building was closed up and fell into disrepair and decay. Local historian Ruth Reynolds Glunt and architect Elise Barry succeeded in placing the lighthouse on the National Register in 1978. This stimulated local citizens to restore the building. In 1986 the newly formed Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy acquired the lighthouse and the adjacent wetlands. After extensive fundraising and restoration work the building was completely reconstructed. After 36 years the light was restored to operation in the light tower on August 4, 1990.
Visiting the lighthouse is a pleasant and educational experience. Visitors can walk out to the lighthouse on the Nature Trail at any time. One can walk around the lighthouse and visit the island, the site of the original 1838 lighthouse. Benches and chairs are in place for relaxing and enjoying the views.