One of the great ladies of the Hudson River, the Saugerties Lighthouse has been guiding ships and navigation on the mighty Hudson River since 1869. As a navigational aid it was decomissioned in 1954. Purchased by the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy in 1986 and restoration was begun.
The Saugerties Lighthouse has two other distinctions among the lighthouses of the Hudson River. First, it is the only lighthouse that welcomes overnight guests, making it the most unique B&B in the Valley. Second, it is the only lighthouse that you can stroll out to overland. The lighthouse can be reached via the nature preserve lying between it and the mainland.
The first lighthouse at the mouth of the Esopus Creek at Saugerties was built in 1838 with funds appropriated from Congress. It was constructed to guide ships away from nearby shallows and into the Esopus Creek when Saugerties was a major port with daily commercial and passenger transportation. The light was 5 whale oil lamps with parabolic reflectors.
The present lighthouse was built in 1869. It sits on a massive circular stone base sixty feet in diameter. A sixth-order Fresnel lens was used with kerosene lamps. The foundation for the original lighthouse remains as a small island adjacent to the exisiting lighthouse.
Automation of the light in 1954 made light keepers obsolete. The building was closed up and fell into disrepair and decay. Local historian Ruth Reynolds Glunt, and architect Elise Barry, succeeded in placing the lighthouse on the National Register in 1978. This stimulated local citizens to restore the building.
In 1986 the newly formed Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy acquired the lighthouse and the adjacent wetlands. After extensive fundraising and restoration work the building was completely reconstructed. After 36 years the light was restored to operation in the light tower on August 4, 1990.
Visiting the Lighthouse
Visiting the lighthouse is a pleasant and educational experience. Visitors can walk out to the lighthouse on the Nature Trail at any time. One can walk around the lighthouse and visit the island, the site of the original 1838 lighthouse. Benches and chairs are in place for relaxing and enjoying the views.
On weekends and holidays between Memorial Day and Columbus Day guided tours of the lighthouse are available between the hours of 2pm and 5pm. We suggest a donation of $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. To visit the interior of the lighthouse at other times you must either be fortunate enough to find the keeper in residence, or you can call ahead and schedule a visit with the keeper Allen Emersonn.
The lighthouse is furnished somewhat like it might have been around 1920. The kitchen reminds many visitors of the one they remember their grandmothers having. The guest rooms are available for viewing and the museum welcomes those with an interest in local history. A video tape of the history and restoration of the lighthouse is most enjoyable.
The trip to the Light Tower is the high point of the visit for most. You are rewarded for the slightly challenging climb up the steep stairs with a panoramic view of the Hudson River with the Catskills looming to the West. The Kingston/Rhinecliff bridge can be seen to the South.
For visitors to the lighthouse there is a porta john on the dock. It may not be elegant, but for an outhouse it has one of the best views in the valley!
The lighthouse is a great place to visit by boat. Larger boats can tie up at the floating dock. Another fixed dock can be used if one is careful with lines and allows for the rise and fall of the tide which can be up to five feet. Large effective fenders are necessary since the docks are vulnerable to wakes from the main river. Be sure to let the keeper know your intentions and the particulars regarding your boat before you come so arrangements can be worked out to accommodate your vessel.
United States Coast Guard Description & Photo
- HUDSON RIVER AT ESOPUS CREEK
- Station Established: 1836
- Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1869
- Operational? YES
- Automated? YES 1954
- Deactivated: 1954-1990
- Foundation Materials: GRANITE BLOCK CRIB
- Construction Materials: BRICK
- Tower Shape: SQUARE
- Markings/Pattern: NATURAL W/BLACK LANTERN
- Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
- Original Lens: SIXTH ORDER
- Tower Height: 46
- Height of Focal Plane: 42