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 Saugerties, NY    
A hike of some distance required.Lighthouse open for climbing.Interior open or museum on site.Overnight lodging available.
Description: Practically a pile of crumbling bricks poised to tumble into the Hudson River, the Saugerties Lighthouse barely escaped the demolition ball. Today, completely renovated and delighting B&B guests, it stands as a testament to the perseverance and hard work of many dedicated individuals.

The name Saugerties is derived from the Dutch "Zager's Killetje", meaning a sawmill on a creek, and in fact, there was a mill built on Esopus Creek to harness the creek's waterpower. The mill formed the cornerstone of a thriving paper industry, which produced as much as eight tons of paper daily, making it one of the leading producers of paper in the 1800s.

In 1834, Congress appropriated $5,000 for the construction of a lighthouse at the mouth of the creek to guide mariners past the nearby shallows and into Esopus Creek and the busy port of Saugerties. The stone lighthouse, built on a forty by fifty foot timber framed pier, was completed in 1838, and its light consisted of five whale oil lamps set in parabolic reflectors.

Saugerties Lighthouse with bell and outbuildings
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
Ice floes and tidal currents took their toll on the structure, and in 1867 it was replaced by a lighthouse built just a few yards closer to shore. This structure, still standing today, was constructed on a granite crib with a depth of twelve feet and a diameter of sixty feet. The foundation for the stone base consists of fifty-six pilings topped with three layers of six-inch planking. The two story lighthouse has twenty-inch-thick natural colored brick cavity walls, and a sixth-order Fresnel lens cast its beacon from the lantern room.

The station was listed as a family station, and considered a plum assignment due to its proximity to town. In 1888, the Saugerties Harbor was enlarged through the construction of jetties, and the keeper’s jaunt to town was made easier when a small road was built along the north jetty to the lighthouse.

The lightkeepers were friendly with their neighbors and even enlisted their help. A neighbor down river would hang a bed sheet out their window whenever they saw the tender coming up river, giving the lightkeeper about a half hour notice before the inspector arrived.

Countless rescues were made by the lightkeepers of Saugerties, but seldom were recorded because of the hassle of typing reports. One keeper stated he just wanted to help others and wasn’t interested in being commended.

Around the turn of the century, the boathouse, located at the foundation of the first lighthouse (a small island east of the current lighthouse), was moved to the second lighthouse pier. In 1910, a wooden platform was extended from the top of the tower to support a fog bell. An enclosed shaft below the platform protected the suspended weights used to power the bell striking mechanism.

When electricity was extended to the lighthouse in the 1940s, the house was “modernized” with steam heat, plumbing and a phone.

In 1954, the last keeper, Ed Pastorini, was informed the light would be automated. Wanting to leave the station in tip top shape, he lovingly painted the three large upstairs bedrooms. Tears flooded his eyes when he closed the door and left the lighthouse for the last time.

Soon the lighthouse tender arrived and tore out the plumbing, furnace, and fixtures. In stark contrast to Mr. Pastorini’s care, gallons of water were drained out on the floors and left to soak through the floorboards. The building was sealed up and left to deteriorate, which it quickly did.

Left with a vandalized, deteriorated building the Coast Guard made plans to demolish it, when in stepped Ruth Reynolds Glunt, wife of Chester B. Glunt, former U.S. Coast Guard light attendant stationed at Turkey Point near Saugerties, NY. Mrs. Glunt, a longtime friend of many lighthouse keepers along the Hudson River, carried a passion for saving the lighthouses. She mounted a campaign to halt the demolition, and through her efforts and those of architect Elise Barry, the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy was established in 1985 with the mission to restore and maintain the lighthouse. The lighthouse and surrounding wetlands were sold to the Conservancy in 1986 for $1. For that $1, the Conservancy received a building on the verge of crumbling.

Through the devotion of the Conservancy, the Saugerties Lighthouse was completely restored. 10,000 old bricks, which had crumbled from moisture, were replaced. The lantern room was removed from the building and refurbished. Stairs, rails, floors, and walls were completely reconstructed. A solar powered light was installed by the Coast Guard, and on August 4, 1990, the lighthouse was reactivated.

The Saugerties Lighthouse, furnished in 1920s décor, is now open to the public and welcomes guests as a bed and breakfast. Visitors can walk to the lighthouse along a ½ mile long trail through the Ruth Reynolds Glunt Nature Preserve, arriving with muddy shoes. There they are greeted by the modern day resident keeper who runs the B&B and maintains the lighthouse.

Photo Gallery: 1 2 3 4 5

References:

  1. Lighthouses of New York, Greater New York Harbor, Hudson River and Long Island, Jim Crowley, 2000.
  2. Lighthouses and Legends of the Hudson, Ruth R. Glunt, 1975.
  3. “Hudson River Lights Get a New Lease,” Elise Barry and Wayne Wheeler, The Keeper’s Log, Summer 1987.
  4. Guardians of the Light, Stories of U.S. Lighthouse Keepers, Elinor de Wire, 1995.
  5. “Hudson River Lighthouses,” Richard Tuers, New York State Conservationist, October 2001.
  6. Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy Pamphlet.

Location: Located along the Hudson River at the confluence of Esopus Creek.
Latitude: 42.07206
Longitude: -73.92961

For a larger map of Saugerties Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: Take exit 20 from Interstate 87 west of Saugerties, and go east on Route 212 into the town where you will intersect Route 9W. Proceed straight on route 9W North for four blocks. You will arrive at a T where 9W turns left. Turn right onto Mynderse Street. Follow this road and bear left at the stop sign. Proceed down the hill and out to the lighthouse parking lot which is just beyond the Coast Guard Station. There is a nature trail, which leads to the lighthouse. Note that the trail floods at high tide.

A museum is located in one room on the second floor of the lighthouse, where a video that chronicles the restoration effort can be viewed. A fourth-order Fresnel lens is also on display in the museum. Tours of the lighthouse are available on Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day between noon and 3 p.m. Call (845) 247-0656 for more information or to reserve a room at the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is owned by the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy. Grounds open, dwelling/tower open during tours and to overnight guests.

Find the closest hotels to Saugerties Lighthouse

Notes from a friend:

Kraig writes:
An overnight stay at this lighthouse is an unforgettable adventure. First, the trail through the nature preserve is flooded at high tide, so consulting a tidal chart is required to arrive with dry feet. Who knew that the ocean tides had such an affect so far up river? I surely didn’t, but we saw ample evidence to convince us. We asked the lightkeeper if he would take us out on his Huck Finn raft so we could photograph the lighthouse from the water, and he kindly obliged. We had a great ride on calm Esopus Creek, but then he headed out into the Hudson to reach the other side of the lighthouse. At that time, he mentioned that he had never attempted that before. We had planned to visit the lighthouses downstream the next day, but thought we might get a premature view of them that night aboard the small raft. Any concern was short lived, as the raft’s small motor overcame the river’s current. Getting pictures of the lighthouse is always part of the experience.

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Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.