|Esopus Meadows, NY|
Description: Legend tells that once there was a meadow in the middle of the Hudson River, big enough for cows to graze on the green grass (how did they get out there?). But the river changed, and now the meadow is underwater at any tide.
The “Maid of the Meadow,” the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, was constructed in 1839 for a sum of $6,000 to warn mariners of the submerged mudflat. River traffic must travel on the east side of the lighthouse to avoid the dangerous shallows.
Keepers and their families lived at the station, accessible only from the water. The first floor was a combination kitchen/dining room/living room, while bedrooms were located on the second level. Keeper John Kerr kept company there with a barnyard of pets. Two deodorized skunks ran the rails of the lantern room, and when Kerr rowed to town, he always brought along his pet rooster which sat, head cocked, in the bow of the rowboat.
When the river froze over in the winter, the lighthouses along the river were shutdown, and many keepers took part time jobs on shore. In the summer, if the station was in order and the inspector was not due for a while, the keepers would join the fruit harvest to earn extra cash.
On September 14, 1903, an inspector did come calling and found the keeper away from the station. The inspector's report read: "Station is in good condition. Lamps not cleaned & keeper absent from station & is evidently neglecting duty by being frequently absent. Dwelling needs painting. Keeper hereby directed to paint dwelling - and admonished to be more attentive to duty or will be probably transferred to less desirable station or discharged." The keeper apparently did not like the admonition he received as he wrote out his resignation that same day to take effect on the third day of October, 1903.
A light was mounted on a metal tower adjacent to the lighthouse when it was automated in 1965. Boards were placed over the windows and then painted to look like curtained windows. One of the paintings even had a black cat in the window, giving the lighthouse a lived-in look and hopefully discouraging trespassers. Left unattended, the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse deteriorated quickly. Over the years, several barges slammed into the granite pier, and the continual force of flood tides and ice floes weakened the pier to the point where it developed cracks. Settling of the foundation also caused the east side of the lighthouse to droop sixteen inches.
Almost certain demolition was on the horizon when Arline Fitzpatrick, whose uncle Manny Resendes was lighthouse keeper from 1937 to 1944, leased the site from the Coast Guard, formed the Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission (SELC) and began the long task of restoring it with a team of dedicated volunteers. Arline used to stay at the lighthouse with her aunt and uncle in the summer. When she returned to live in Port Ewen in the 1980s as an adult, she was devastated by the ruinous condition of the lighthouse.
Through the diligent work of the lighthouse organization, the structure has steadily been restored. Along with emergency repairs, the group has also performed extensive carpentry work and re-shingled the mansard roof. The lighthouse has been placed on an I-beam frame and put back into proper horizontal alignment.
On September 22, 2002, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 pilot disposal program, title of the lighthouse passed to SELC.
The Coast Guard promised that if the SELC restored the lighthouse, the light would be moved from the modern skeletal tower and returned to the lantern room. True to its word, the Coast Guard transferred the light on May 31, 2003, and once again the signal beamed forth from the Maid of the Meadow. Stan Fletcher, one of three Coast Guardsmen on duty at Esopus when the light was extinguished in 1965, was given the honor of flipping the switch.
In May of 2010, a floating dock was installed to permit larger vessels to call at the lighthouse, and in July, the lighthouse was opened to visitors arriving aboard the Estuary Steward. Ten tour dates were offered in 2010, and an enhanced schedule will follow in subsequent years. Some restoration work is still needed at the lighthouse, but the public can now visit the Hudson River's only remaining wooden lighthouse thanks to the efforts of the dedicated members of The Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission.
Located in the Hudson River, four miles north of Esopus. Views of the lighthouse from the
east bank of the Hudson River are available from
the grounds of the
Mills Mansion. The mansion is located in
Staatsburg, NY, midway between Hyde Park and Rhinebeck off NYS Route 9.
However, the best way to view the lighthouse
is from the water.
Hudson River Cruises
out of Kingston offers trips that pass by both the Rondout Lighthouse and the Esopus Meadows
Lighthouse. Staring in July of 2010, Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission started offering tours to the lighthouse.
The lighthouse is owned by the Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission.
Views of the lighthouse from the east bank of the Hudson River are available from the grounds of the Mills Mansion. The mansion is located in Staatsburg, NY, midway between Hyde Park and Rhinebeck off NYS Route 9.
However, the best way to view the lighthouse is from the water. Hudson River Cruises out of Kingston offers trips that pass by both the Rondout Lighthouse and the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. Staring in July of 2010, Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission started offering tours to the lighthouse.
The lighthouse is owned by the Save Esopus Lighthouse Commission.
Notes from a friend:Kraig writes:
We just happened to arrive in Kingston as a tour group was boarding the Rip Van Winkle for a cruise down the Hudson River. It wasn’t a scheduled public cruise, but they gladly accepted our money and welcomed us aboard. The highlight of the cruise for us was, of course, great views of the Rondout Lighthouse and the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, but we also enjoyed other magnificent sites in a colorful fall setting. Gracing the slopes above the river is the Mt. St. Alphonsus Seminary, a stately Gothic building. Further south, we passed the Vanderbilt Mansion, which was built by Frederick Vanderbilt and which is now a national historic site. Near the Vanderbilt Mansion is Springwood, Franklin D. Roosevelt's home and site for his Presidential Library. This cruise is definitely the way to see the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse ... all the other sites are an added bonus.
See our List of Lighthouses in New York
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.