Hudson River Lighthouses

Hudson Athens Lighthouse, Photo credit B. Docktor Photography

Hudson Athens Lighthouse, Photo credit B. Docktor Photography

Originally the Hudson River had 14 lighthouses and numerous post lamps along the length of the river. In 1825 commercial river traffic increased after the Erie Canal opened, and the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment felt that more lighthouses being built would be beneficial to the safety of commercial river traffic. In the 1940s more and more of the commercial goods that had been formerly shipped by boat moved to the railways being developed along the Hudson Valley. By the mid 1900s the lighthouses started to fall into disrepair and one by one closed down, or fell into disuse and were decommissioned. As technology has advanced, commercial river shipping no longer had to rely on the lighthouses, instead using modern computer navigation means to safely avoid the hazardous areas of the Hudson River. The seven lighthouses that exist today along the Hudson River are a tribute to the preservation groups that have worked many long hours in restoring, and keeping up these historic river treasures.

While some of the lighthouses do not allow tours, they are still of scenic interest for boaters to check out in travels along the beautiful Hudson river. If you are visiting the Hudson Valley, a trip to see some of the lighthouses by boat, or while visiting a state park that houses one of these historic spots, is sure to offer up an opportunity to see the extensive wildlife the region offers, see some gorgeous scenic river views and soak up a little history.

Hudson-Athens Lighthouse
Hudson, NY
This brick lighthouse was built in 1874 and is now owned by the Hudson-Athens Preservation Lighthouse Society, who has restored it to actively aid in navigation. The Preservation Society has accumulated a wealth of historical photos and memorabilia depicting life on the river and at the lighthouse. Many of the artifacts were donated by the Brunner family, whose father Emil Brunner was the last civilian keeper at the lighthouse. The working fog bell is one of the last remaining in the United States. Access is via boat from Athens or Hudson on scheduled tour dates in season. Private and group tours may be arranged. For more information: 518-828-5294 or visit http://www.hudsonathenslighthouse.org

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Saugerties Lighthouse
168 Lighthouse Dr, Saugerties, NY
This lighthouse was saved and restored by the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy, who in 1990 restored the lighthouse to active duty. It is also a Bed and Breakfast where guests can view ships sailing up and down the river from the outside deck, or view the surrounding mountains from the lantern room. Unless traveling by boat, the lighthouse is reached by walking a half-mile Nature trail, the land surrounding the trail to the Lighthouse consists of 17 acres of wooded grounds and tidal wetland flats. The area is supported by a sandbar comprised of dredged sediments from the channelization projects of 1888 and 1889, at which point the Esopus Creek was deepened to make way for ship access to the Saugerties Harbor. The Lighthouse is open daily in season, and by appointment at other times, or by booking a stay at the lighthouse. For more information: 845-247-0656 or visit http://www.saugertieslighthouse.com

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Rondout LighthouseRondout Lighthouse
Kingston, NY
The Rondout Lighthouse is the last of three lighthouses marking the entrance to the Rondout Creek.  Owned by the City of Kingston and operated by the Hudson River Maritime Museum who administers and maintains the Rondout Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1915 and is one of the focal points of the museum’s programs. The museum offers exhibits and educational programs on the history of the Hudson River. Tours are conducted seasonally. The brick lighthouse is still an active navigational light and is accessible only by boat.  For more information: 845-338-0071 or visit http://www.hrmm.org/rondout-lighthouse.html

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Esopus Lighthouse (also known as the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse and Maid of the Meadow Lighthouse)
Port Ewen, NY
This lighthouse is one of the last remaining wooden lighthouses on the river. The Esopus Lighthouse Commission salvaged her from falling into the river in 2000 and have restored it to the point where it once again became an active lighthouse in 2003. You can view this lighthouse up close by cruising on the MV Rip Van Winkle which docks in Kingston. The lighthouse is not currently available for visits, but an excellent view of the lighthouse can be had from the Esopus Meadows Environmental Center on the west bank of the river or from the Mills Mansion & Norrie Point State Park on the east bank of the river.  For more information, call 845-848-3669 or visit http://www.esopusmeadowslighthouse.org

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Stony Point Lighthouse
44 Battlefield Rd, Stony Point, NY / Stony Point Battlefield National Historic Site
The thirty-foot-tall octagonal lighthouse, built of blue split stone, was originally constructed by Thomas Phillips of New York City.  This lighthouse is one of the oldest on the Hudson River, originally built in 1826, it was completely restored in 1995, and is now a part of Stony Point Battlefield Historic State Site. In 1902, a lens lantern was mounted on the roof of the bell tower to display a fixed red light, known as Stony Point Lower Light.  On October 7, 1995, restoration was complete, and the light was activated for the first time in 70 years. The automatic light, operated by solar power, beams a flash of light once every four seconds. The light can be visited daily during the season and they offer scheduled evening candle light tours to see the beautifully restored fourth order Fresnel lens. For more information: 845-786-2521 or visit http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=681

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1883 Lighthouse at Sleepy Hollow (also known as the Tarrytown Lighthouse)
Tarrytown Light-Kingsland Point Path, Sleepy Hollow, NY
This lighthouse which fell into disuse with the building of the Tappan Zee Bridge and is now a museum filled with lighthouse keeper’s log books, old photos and a beautifully restored interior. On June 10, 2015, the Village of Sleepy Hollow and the Westchester County Department of Parks installed an exact replica of the original fourth-order Fresnel Lens and rotating light that once operated atop the lighthouse. The United States Coast Guard has reauthorized the light as a Private Aid to Navigation, and Westchester County and the Village of Sleepy Hollow are expected to utilize the light, currently powered with solar panels, on selected special occasions. The lighthouse can be viewed from Kingsland Point Park, which offers visitors picnic tables and a beautiful view of the river. Tours of the lighthouse are by appointment through the Village of Sleepy Hollow, 914-366-5109 or visit http://visitsleepyhollow.com/historic-sites/sleepy-hollow-lighthouse/

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The Little Red Lighthouse (also known as Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse)
Fort Washington Park, Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY
This little lighthouse, built in 1921, was made memorable in the children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.” Like the 1883 Lighthouse at Sleepy Hollow, it was deactivated when the building of the well-lit George Washington Bridge rendered it unnecessary. The Historic House Trust has plans to relight the lighthouse in the near future. Each September, the Little Red Lighthouse Festival draws thousands of visitors and during the season regular tours of the lighthouse are conducted by the Urban Park Rangers. For more information: Urban Park Rangers 212-360-2774 or visit http://historichousetrust.org/house/little-red-lighthouse

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