Fire Island Lighthouse Lights up the Day

Grace Anne McKenna, Viewpoints Editor

Long Island is home to some of the best beaches, vineyards, historic sites, and beautiful sceneries. By far, the best place to visit is the Fire Island Lighthouse. You can learn about the history of Fire Island, take a walk on the nature paths, and check it off your bucket list. Located next to Robert Moses State Park, the lighthouse is a major attraction for many Long Island residents.

Tours to hike up the 182 steps of the tower are available all year round. In the summer, they are offered daily and during the school year, tours are held on weekends and afternoons. Lining the walls of the lighthouse are the hundreds of bricks. At the gift shop, you can buy ownership to one of the bricks. Your name is shown on a certificate with the brick number.

As well as visiting the lighthouse for fun, tourists can bring scouts. There are holiday festivities and other activities held all year long. Families are able to go seining in the Great South Bay, decorate the lighthouse’s Christmas tree, and witness the Santa flyover. Kids enjoy decorating ornaments at home and hanging them on the Christmas tree. In addition, patches can be purchased in the gift shop.

Recently, the fresnel lens was replaced. The old one is located in a building next door where visitors can view. Today, the light from the lens is lit by two 1,000watt bulbs and is seen from 24 miles away. It rotates in a counterclockwise direction and and flashes every 7.5 seconds. The light is so bright that it can be seen during the day!

Did you know that the lighthouse that stands on among the Great South Bay today is not the original lighthouse? In fact, the first Fire Island Lighthouse was opened in 1826 and cost $9,999.65 to build. The crown of the lighthouse was illuminated by a chandelier containing 18 lamps, which were lit by oils such as, whale oil, lard oil, mineral oil, and kerosene. In 1857 a replacement was built for $40,000. Electricity reached the island on September 20, 1938. Soon after, the electricity was wiped out by the great (unnamed) hurricane of 1938. Shortly after, the old lighthouse was retired due to the lack of light visible from the water.

In the 1970’s, the lighthouse was no longer needed. On December 31, 1973, it was retired. Afterwards, the lighthouse began to rot away and in 1981, it was declared unsafe. The government had decided to tear it down. Soon after, the Fire Island Preservation Society was created to raise money for reparations to the lighthouse. Around $1 million was collected and reconstruction of the monstrosity began. Not long after, the Society was given ownership of the great Fire Island treasure.

The lighthouse held a grand reopening on May 15, 1994. Today, tourists from all over visit one of Long Island’s greatest possessions. Whether it be to take a nature walk or to learn about the history, the Fire Island Lighthouse is enjoyable for people of all ages