Summer Fun

Ghost Lighthouses That Still Haunt the Hudson River

Looking back at the beacons that once dotted the Hudson River


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The Stuyvesant Lighthouse

Photograph courtesy of Lost Lighthouses/National Archives

The Hudson River is dotted with beaming beacons — some still in commission today (visit some of our favorites here). But what about those lighthouses that no longer stand?

Tim Harrison and Ray Jones answer that mystery in their 1999 paperback, Lost Lighthouses: Stories and Images of America’s Vanished Lighthouses (Globe Pequot Press, $14.25). Illustrated with stunning photographs, the book delves into the history and — often tragic — fates of some of these landmarks that took up post on beaches, islands, and craggy cliffs across the country. Of the mid-Atlantic beacons, ne such beacon was Columbia County’s Stuyvesant Lighthouse. Writes Harrison and Jones:

“The keeper and his family at Stuyvesant Light Station in New York may never have know (sic) what hit them. The Stuyvesant Lighthouse had stood beside the Hudson River for only three years when tragedy struck in March 1832. Huge ice floes had formed a dam upriver. When it suddenly broke apart, the resulting tidal wave carried away everything in its path, including the lighthouse, the keeper, and four members of his family.”

coxsackie lighthouse West Point Lighthouse

The Coxsackie Lighthouse (left) and West Point Lighthouse (right)

Other notable light stations include the Coxsackie Lighthouse on Rattle Snake Island, which ended its watch in 1940; and the 1853 West Point Lighthouse at Gee’s Point, which met its violent demise by the bow of a wayward schooner.

Unfortunately, the book itself is a bit of a ghost — according to Globe Pequot Press, it’s no longer in print — but you can still purchase it here.


Related: Visiting the Hudson River’s (Existing) Lighthouses

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