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Saugerties Lighthouse

The Saugerties Lighthouse is rich in local lore and history, and unique to Hudson River Lighthouses it is the only lighthouse directly accessible from land. Take a leisurely stroll through the Nature Preserve skirting the tidal pools, stands of trees and expanses of reeds and arrive in the middle of the majestic Hudson River.

But that only mentiones the obvious.

In 1838 the first lighthouse located at the mouth of the Esopus Creek at Saugerties was erected. Originally, the lighthouse stood on a small island in the Hudson to guide shipping away from the shallows or into the bustling commercial and passenger port of Saugerties.

Early in the 19th century the Village of Saugerties consisted of less than 20 homes. In the 1820's Henry Barclay partnered with Robert L Livingston and developed a planned community surrounding a series of water powered industries on the Esopus, eventually becoming the largest concentration of water powered businesses in the world. Navigation into and out of the Esopus became a critical navigation issue leading to the building of the original light.

In the mid 19th century it became necessary to improve access to the Esopus because industry was growing so dramatically with cooperages, iron works, paper, calico, brick making and ice harvesting. A jetty was constructed extending out to the lighthouse and the Esopus was dredged, with the spoils being deposited along the jetty.

In 1869 the present lighthouse was erected sitting on a massive circular stone base sixty feet in diameter. A sixth-order Fresnel lens was used with kerosene lamps as the beacon signaling the entrance to the Esopus to shipping. The foundation for the original lighthouse remains as a small island adjacent to the exisiting lighthouse.

The Saugerrties Lighthouse continued as a beacon in the Hudson serving shipping until, in 1954, the Coast Guard automated the light making the brick structure and the light keeper obsolete. The building was closed and over the next 20 years quickly fell into near total disrepair. Like most of the antique lighthouses on the Hudson, the Saugerties Lighthouse became a white elephant; abandoned, neglected and slowly crumbling on its stone base at the tip if its arrtificial peninsula.

The next chapter in the life of the Lighthouse began in the mid-70's as Ruth Reynolds Glunt and architect Elise Barry began the long task of having the Lighthouse declared an important historic structure. Finally in 1978 they succeeded in getting the Lighthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Structures sparking a drive by local citizens to bring the old structure back to life.

The Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy was formed in 1985 with the purpose of acquiring the lighthouse and restoring it to its former glory.. The Coast Guard, the original owners of the lighthouse, gave up jurisdiction and the property reverted back to New York State. The Conservancy then bought the deteriorated remains of the lighthouse for one dollar. Efforts to stabilize the building began shortly thereafter. Plans for the reconstruction were completed by Alex Wade and a barge to haul construction materials was built. An elaborate scaffolding and shoring system was created to hold up the sagging tower, floors and roof so that new brick walls could be constructed. More than 10,000 new bricks were required to replace bricks that had crumbled. Tons of masonry materials were manually loaded onto the barge and transported to the lighthouse. The entire masonry structure, including the massive stone base, has been reconstructed.

The lantern that houses the light was removed from the building and completely restored to its original condition. The Coast Guard has installed a fourth order solar powered light. After 36 years without a light in the lighthouse tower, it was finally restored to operation on August 4, 1990. A replica picket fence surrounds the lighthouse. On it are the names of the many keepers who lived and worked here and hundreds of donors who contributed towards the restoration.

Local craftsman completed the building with woodwork, plastering, and painting. The work to maintain the lighthouse continues with the help of volunteers and members.

On weekends and holidays between Memorial Day and Columbus Day guided tours of the lighthouse are available between the hours of 2pm and 5pm. A suggested donation of $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children is gratefully accepted. To visit the interior of the lighthouse at other times you must either be fortunate enough to find the keeper in residence, or you can call ahead and schedule a visit.

The lighthouse is furnished somewhat like it might have been around 1910. A small museum on the second floor of the lighthouse and a videotape give more details regarding the history and dramatic restoration of the lighthouse.

From it's past glory to it's near collapse to the amazing dedication of the people who rebuilt it, the Lighthouse now stands solid as a testimony to the triumph of love and teamwork.

Get Away From It All

The lighthouse operates as a Bed & Breakfast all year.

That's absolutely correct! Two of the rooms upstairs in the Lighthouse have been restored into bedrooms to accommodate overrnight guests in this most unusual setting for a B&B in the Hudson Valley. Accommodations are simple yet comfortable and elegant with a parlor and kitchen for the enjoyment of guests. Electricity is limited so small appliances such as hair-blowers aren't allowed.

And there's no TV, so bring a good book, good friends and a sense of adventure. Sit outside the lighthouse or climb the tower and watch the ships and boats cruise the Hudson. Bring your binoculars and telescopes and gaze at the stars. Absorb some sunshine sitting in the deck chairs surrounding the lighthouse and rest and relax.

Walk back through the Nature Preserve to your car and explore the many antiques shops of Saugerties, wander through neaby Historic Kingston and the Rondout. Visit nearby New Paltz to visit the oldest street in America with its original houses and walk the trails or climb the Shawangunk cliffs of Minnewaska State Park or The Mohonk Preserve. Or head west into the glorious Catskill High Peaks Region and tube down the Esopus Creek, take your tackle and fly fish where it all started or hike the trails of the Catskills State Park. Cross the Hudson and visit the Great Estates of the Hudson Valley where you can tour the homes of FDR, the Vanderbilts and other houses of the rich and famous that settled in the Valley.

Then come back to the quiet and calm in the middle of the Hudson River for your night at the Saugerties Lighthouse. You won't soon forget this unique place or your stay amidst the lapping waters of the Hudson.

Accommodations are very limited, so advance reservations are required. Call ahead to the Lighthouse Keeper at (914)247-0656 to inquire about availability. Pack light for your stay as the curb is a half mile back down the path through the Nature Preserve. And make sure to check with the Lighthouse Keeper on the tide schedule as at high tide parts of the trail can be underwater!

For more information contact:
Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy
PO Box 654
Saugerties, NY 12477

Specifics on visiting the Saugerties Lighthouse were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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