Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Montauk Point Light, NY

Montauk Point and its sturdy old tower are the sources of much history and the scene of many marine disasters. During the American Revolution, Eastern Long Island and Montauk Point were occupied by the British. The Royal Navy kept a huge fire burning on the bluff overlooking the sea to serve as a beacon for the ships of the squadron that blockaded Long Island Sound. Montauk Point was certainly one of the most dangerous areas on the new trans-Atlantic trade route. Records show that the rock-studded point projecting out into an often fog-ridden Atlantic Ocean took a heavy toll of shipping during the early years of settlement in the new world.

In 1792, to prevent this loss of ships and trade, Congress appropriated $255.12 to buy land upon which a lighthouse was to be built to warn passing mariners of the perilous rocks at Montauk Point. Three years later, President George Washington signed the authorization for the construction of the light. Also in his favor was the fact that he had already built a successful lighthouse at Cape Henry, Virginia in 1791. McComb was later commissioned to build also Old Field Point Light, Port Jefferson, New York in 1799.

Montauk Point Light, like the Statue of Liberty, symbolizes the United States emergence from a colonial enclave to an independent trading nation which opened its arms to the millions of Europeans who saw it as the promised land. Montauk Point Light had been the only beacon, casting a steady beam, on that lonely wind swept 76 mile stretch of coast between Fire Island Light and Montauk Point. Thousands of sightseers annually picnic at beautiful Montauk State Park and visit its historic adjacent beacon.

Montauk Point Lighthouse is one of the few remaining 18th century American Lighthouses still standing. It is also one of the best known American lighthouses. Standing a majestic 169 feet above the pounding Atlantic Ocean, it continues to serve seafarers as faithfully as it has for nearly two centuries.

Montauk Light inspired Walt Whitman to write six lines subtitled "From Montauk Point" in 1888 as part of his most famous poem Leaves of Grass.

I stand as on some mighty eagle's beak,

Eastward the sea absorbing,

viewing (nothing but sea and sky),

The tossing waves,

the foam,

the ships in the distance,

The wild unrest, the snowy.

curling caps-that inbound urge and urge of waves,

the shores forever . . . .

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For anyone interested in Long Island Lighthouses...


Outside of the area: 1-888-MTK-POINT

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