Up and down the Hudson River you would once find many lighthouses warning sailors of dangers in the water. Today, the number of historic lighthouses has sadly decreased greatly, but there are still a few gems you can visit, and even stay in! One of the last remaining historic lighthouses along the Hudson can be found at the mouth of the Esopus Creek in the village of Saugerties, New York. Accessed by a half-mile nature trail at the end of Lighthouse Drive, The Saugerties Lighthouse is a charming spot that offers panoramic views of the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains, as well as a quiet place to rest your head if you should wish to stay the night.
The first lighthouse to be built at the site was constructed in 1835. The cupola designed lighthouse featured a tower rising from the top of the residence. It was built upon a tiny man-made island. The purpose of the lighthouse was to guide ships away from the nearby shallows. Construction on the current lighthouse began in 1868 and it became operational a year later. Atop the stone remnants of the original man-made island, you will now find a picnic area. Out on this picnic deck you can also see the fog bell from 1923.
The lighthouse was automated in 1954, abolishing the need for live-in keepers. The house was boarded up and fell into disrepair. A decade later, the Coast Guard announced plans to demolish the brick lighthouse. By the late 1970s, the lighthouse made it onto the National Register of Historic Places and this invigorated the local community. Finally, in 1985 the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy was established. The conservancy acquired the lighthouse and surrounding wetlands the next year for $1. In 1990, after extensive fundraising and restoration work, the building was completely reconstructed and a solar-powered beacon was installed, allowing the lighthouse to be officially re-commissioned. It took 10,000 new bricks to get the building back in order. Walking through the house, you can see in some spots where the old brick meets the new.
Photographs of the lighthouse’s restoration hang in the hallway
Inside the lighthouse there is a small museum with relics from past light keepers, along with pieces of the lighthouse itself. The museum room used to be a bedroom. Inside, you will see photographs from former lighthouse keepers, tools of the trade, and even the original sixth-order fresnel lens from the lighthouse light. It is amazing to see what a day in the life of a keeper used to be, especially those with families who had to row a boat to the mainland to get to school everyday before the lighthouse was connected to the shore! Anyone who is interested can tour the lighthouse from Memorial Day to Labor Day and it is always open to guests staying at the bed and breakfast.
The life of a lighthouse keeper at Saugerties Lighthouse has changed dramatically over the years. Today, the lighthouse is kept by Patrick and Anna Landewe. Actually tending to the light is not the main focus of their job anymore, but caring for the historic building and guests of the lighthouse bed and breakfast is. When Untapped New York visited, Patrick showed us around the quaint and cozy spaces guests can enjoy during their stay. Guest can play records in the living room on an old Victrola and cozy up to the coal stove, grab a board game from the hall, or a guitar to strum a tune while looking out over the amazing views of he Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. The lighthouse has a back deck which is open to the public so anyone can stop by and enjoy the serene location. Check out more photos from our visit below!
Next, check out 17 Fascinating Lighthouses in the NYC Area