Submitted By: Fred Fragano
My favorite Hudson River lighthouse, the Tarrytown Lighthouse, was built between 1882 and 1883. This cast iron Caisson style lighthouse, with red and white daymarks, was first lit on October 1, 1883. The Lighthouse’s original beacon was a fixed white light and was later changed to a flashing red. It was constructed to warn ships of the shoals of the eastern edge of the Hudson River. The lighthouse, which stands approximately 60 feet tall and can be seen from either direction as you travel on the Tappan Zee Bridge, is located at Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow, New York (formerly North Tarrytown, NY) in Westchester County. It is located adjacent to the old General Motors Plant that no longer exists.
The first Keeper of the Tarrytown Lighthouse was Captain Jacob Ackerman. The very last Keepers of the Lighthouse were the Moreland Family. As the days of the lighthouse keeper are long gone, it is the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation that now maintains the Lighthouse.
Quite similar to the Jeffreys Hook Lighthouse (Little Red Lighthouse), this is another situation where the construction of a Bridge spelled the doom of a lighthouse. In 1958, the Tappan Zee Bridge was built connecting Westchester and Rockland Counties. The Bridge, approximately three miles long, was constructed with so much lighting that it illuminated basically everything around its mighty span. The Tappan Zee, like the George Washington Bridge was to Jeffreys Hook, caused the Tarrytown Lighthouse to be deactivated and go dark. The Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1965. However, Westchester County acquired the Lighthouse in 1974 and in 1979 the Lighthouse received its lucky break and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
An interesting fact about the Tarrytown Lighthouse is that once it stood a short distance off shore. Today the Lighthouse is connected to land and one can access it by simply walking a short path from the parking lot and crossing a small footbridge. Upon entering the Lighthouse you first step into what was the Keeper’s main living quarters and kitchen. The circular room is furnished with kitchen equipment and furniture and contains copies of logbooks and photographs detailing the history of the Lighthouse and its Keepers. Above this area, the next two floors are what used to be the master bedroom and the second bedroom. As this Lighthouse was an ideal station for families, the second bedroom was often used for the Keeper’s children. Today, the Lighthouse still has these two bedrooms fully furnished with bedding and furniture making it appear as if the Keeper was still in residence. Continuing the upward climb, you reach a small area above the bedrooms, which was used by the Keepers to store supplies. Above this area you finally reach one large catwalk and a smaller catwalk above encircling the lantern room.
The Tarrytown Lighthouse is not just a work of beauty itself. It also “resides” in a beautiful County park. The Park, Kingsland Point Park, is named after Ambrose C. Kingsland who was a former New York City Mayor (1851-1853) and shipping magnate. In addition to this park being home for the Lighthouse, the Kingsland Point Park also offers a large variety of recreations including a playground, picnicking, hiking, fishing, walking, ball-fields and nature studies. The park is also wheelchair accessible.
As the Lighthouse is not regularly opened, you will need to call for tour schedules. For information, contact the Westchester County Department of Parks at 914-864-7275. By car you may reach the Lighthouse by taking Route 9 to Sleepy Hollow. Turn west on Pierson Street which becomes Bellwood and then continue to Palmer Avenue. Stay on Palmer Avenue until you reach Kingsland Point Park. There is no fee charged to take the tour, however, a small parking fee is charged.
Well, I hope you take advantage of this really beautiful Lighthouse and park. The next stop on this Hudson Series will take us further north to Stony Point Lighthouse, a very small active Lighthouse, but packed with a great deal of history.
Return to Tidbits from the Tower