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The Hudson River Lights Series

Part 4 of 8

Esopus Meadows Lighthouse
Submitted By: Fred Fragano

As we further venture up the Hudson River we come to the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. The Lighthouse, which is accessible only by water, is located off the Town of Esopus which is located in Ulster County, New York. This Lighthouse that has been dubbed the nickname “Maid of the Meadows” was originally established in 1839 and was first lit by lamps and reflectors. It was built in its present location to warn mariners of the mud flats in the area. This light station, established in 1839, is not the same one in existence today. The predecessor of today’s lighthouse was identical to another Hudson River lighthouse still in existence today, the Rondout II Lighthouse located off Kingston, New York (see next issue for this lighthouse).

Due to extreme tidal flooding and ice floes over the years the lighthouse could no longer be considered safe and therefore plans were drawn and funds were made available for a new light station to be built. The new lighthouse built on the site, which is the present one, was completed in 1872. It was built of a wooden frame that contained seven rooms. With all the rooms available, the lighthouse was always considered a family station. It was always occupied and maintained by Lightkeepers under the authority of the United States Lighthouse Service until 1939 when the Lighthouse Service was taken over by the United States Coast Guard under direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The original beacon was provided by a 5th Order Fresnel lens. The light was deactivated in 1965 and since then the light source has been a modern day optic on a pole located next to the lighthouse. On May 29, 1979, Esopus Meadows Lighthouse gained its rightful placement on the National Register of Historical Places.

Today we (and especially the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse) are very fortunate to have a very wonderful, caring group handling the restoration and preservation of the Lighthouse. The “Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission” was formed with the purpose of the restoration and preservation. Since this organization has been involved, the Lighthouse has undergone much structural work including being leveled, its roof has been repaired, carpentry work performed and new windows installed. The United States Coast Guard is presently leasing the Lighthouse to the Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission. To find out more about Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission you may contact them by either writing to them at Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission, PO Box 1290, Pt. Ewen, NY 12469 or call 1-845-297-1569. Other than to do volunteer work, there has been no access to the interior of the Lighthouse. However the exterior of the Lighthouse is always there for your photo opportunity but remember that it is in the middle of the Hudson River and some type of water vehicle would really come in handy for that really nice shot. One fine way to get that shot would be to board a boat out of Kingston, NY called the Rip Van Winkle.

Oh well, I am just about at the midway point in this Hudson River series. The next several issues will have us going still further north to visit the Rondout II Lighthouse in Kingston, New York, the Saugerties Lighthouse in Saugerties, New York and the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse off Hudson and Athens, New York. As an added bonus I will briefly cover something that has also depressed me, that being the Lost Lighthouses of the Hudson River. No, I am not trying to bum you out and I do not want to sound like I am running off to a Psychiatrist’s office, but any lighthouse that no longer exists, for any reason, is something that reminds me just how important it is to have caring private groups such as the Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission in existence to preserve these maritime treasures of yesteryear. After all, our main objective is to preserve our Maritime heritage for decades, centuries and millenniums to come. Before any other lighthouses become victims and end up on the Lost Lighthouses list, please join some preservation group and donate a bit of your time. Personally I cannot think of a better way to get started than joining our own Long Island Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society. Not only will you be helping in saving our Lights but you will have fun and a great time at the different events and fundraisers held throughout the year. Please see this issue for information as to how to join.

OK, that is it for now and see you up north next time at the Rondout II Light.
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