|Throgs Neck, NY|
Description: Duck hunters bound for East Chester in the early 1830s always knew they could stop off at Throg’s Neck Lighthouse for lighthearted camaraderie with sailors and soldiers and a good old swig of rum. To help supplement their lightkeeping pay, the first Throg’s Neck Lightkeeper, Samuel Young, and his successor, Jeth Bayles, kept a bar on the premises. There were never any reports of trouble, probably because the clientele knew that any bad reports would have closed the place down.
Once the Lighthouse Board assumed control of lighthouses, more strict rules were set in place, and the idea of a bar at a lighthouse would never have been considered.
Fairly early on, the need for a lighthouse at this point to mark the entrance to the East River was recognized. The land for the lighthouse was obtained by the State of New York in 1823, possibly through a condemnation procedure, and construction of the lighthouse commenced in 1826 under the direction of Timothy, Ezra, and Elisha Daboll. The remaining peninsula was purchased during the construction period with the plan to build a defensive fort at the strategic location.
The first lighthouse was completed in 1826, but less than a decade later, it and the original keeper’s dwelling were torn down during the construction of Fort Schuyler in 1835. Some stones from the buildings were used in the fort. A temporary, forty-foot-tall, wooden, octagonal tower and a temporary two-story keeper's dwelling were built on the northeast of the fort, with the idea that they could easily be moved if necessary.
These “temporary” structures remained in use for roughly fifty years. In 1838, the wooden tower was cited as being “in a leaky condition,” and its lighting apparatus consisted of eleven lamps with spherical reflectors arranged around two horizontal tables so as to show light in every direction. The nine-room, frame keeper's dwelling was “in a good state of repair” at this time.
Thirty years later, in 1868, it was reported that the wooden tower was “old, leaky, shakey, and requires immediate and thorough repairs,” but it had been equipped with a sixth-order Fresnel lens in 1855 instead of its old reflectors and lamps. A fog bell was established at the station in 1854, and in 1869 it was replaced by a “new and more efficient fog-bell, operation by a hot-air engine.”
In 1874, it was noted that the keeper's dwelling was in great need of repairs as its decayed sills had caused unequal settling, causing the doors and windows to be all out of position. Rather than repair the structure, the Lighthouse Board recommended a new dwelling be built for $8,000, but as no money was provided, repairs were carried out in 1875 - 1876.
The wooden tower was “temporarily” used six years longer than the keeper's dwelling. In 1890, it was replaced by an iron skeleton tower outfitted with a fifth-order Fresnel lens. The tower was 61 ½ feet tall from its base to the center of the lantern room.
In 1899, authority was given to the War Department to extend the embankment for new batteries being constructed six feet into the south side of the lighthouse reservation. Two years later, the Lighthouse Board recommended that the iron tower be removed as it was in the field of fire of the new batteries. The keeper’s dwelling was left intact, but the iron tower was replaced in 1906 with a conical red brick tower, built atop the walls of the fort. A contract for the thirty-five-foot-tall tower was let on October 2, 1905, and the new lighthouse, equipped with a fourth-order lens, commenced operation on July 25, 1906.
The brick tower was discontinued in 1934, when it was replaced by a skeletal tower, which stood sixty feet tall and had a fixed red light with a range of eleven miles. That same year, the SUNY Maritime College established a campus at Fort Schuyler.
Charles A. Ferreira lived at Throgs Neck Lighthouse for sixty-four years. His father, Alexander Ferreira, was made keeper of the light in 1884, and Charles took over responsibility for the light in 1910. An elaborate retirement ceremony was held at Throgs Neck for Charles in 1944. Besides many former keepers and coastguardsmen, the ceremony was also attended by a U. S. Navy Vice Admiral and 450 white-clad midshipmen and twenty-one officers who marched in review to honor Ferreira.
The 1934 tower was replaced in 1986 by a plain modern tower, which also displays a red light. The 1884 keepers’ dwelling was still being used as Coast Guard housing in the late 1980s, but it is currently used as a home for a member of the SUNY Maritime College faculty.
Keepers: Samuel Young, James Bayles ( - 1841), Stephen Weeks (1841 - ), Augustus Hudson (at least 1850), Riley Sherwood (at least 1855), Richard Lyons ( - 1881), Mrs. Ellen Lyons (1876 - 1881), Alexander Ferreira (1884 - 1910), Charles A. Ferreira (1910 - 1944), Albert George Possell ( - 1959).
Located under the northern end of the I-295's Throgs Neck Bridge on the
campus of SUNY Maritime College, near the confluence of the East River
and Long Island Sound. The dwelling is owned by State University of New York Maritime College. Grounds open, dwelling closed.
The dwelling is owned by State University of New York Maritime College. Grounds open, dwelling closed.
Notes from a friend:Kraig writes:
The current tower at Throg's Neck isn't much to look at, but there is also a Maritime Industry Museum located in Fort Schuyler that supplements the visit. The museum doesn't have a formal section on lighthouses, but there are several photographs of lighthouses along with displays on the history of the Maritime College, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the fort itself. The museum does have a fog bell and a lens that were used at Throggs Neck.
See our List of Lighthouses in New York
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.