Hudson River Maritime Museum
The last of three, I mark the entrance to the Port of Rondout.
- The Rondout Creek was a major deepwater port for most of the 19th and the early 20th century. A lighthouse was necessary to mark the entrance to the creek on the Hudson, especially after the opening of the D&H canal (which terminates at Rondout Creek) in 1828. The increased traffic due to coal shipments and other shipments coming in and out of the creek made marking the mouth and the shallow areas around it necessary.
- The first lighthouse was built in 1837 and was made of wood. Little is known about this structure. After it was damaged in a storm, it was replaced by a stone structure in 1867 (you can still see the foundation of the old lighthouse). This served the creek well until the creek was dredged and jettys (aka breakwaters aka dikes) were built along the mouth of the creek and which extended out past the 1867 lighthouse. Sailors complained that the light on a pole at the end of the jetty was insufficient to mark the entrance to the mouth of the creek and in 1913 construction began on a new brick lighthouse which remains the Rondout (or sometimes called Kingston) Light. Construction was completed and the light was lit in 1915. The 1867 lighthouse was abandoned.
- All lighthouses in the U.S. were run by the United States Lighthouse Service from 1716-1939, when the lighthouses were transferred to the United States Coast Guard. US Lighthouse Servicemen often had families who lived in the lighthouses with them.
- The 1913 lighthouse was fully automated in the 1950s and the old lighthouse was torn down around that same time. The lighthouse was mostly abandoned until the 1980s when HRMM initiated some preservation efforts. Leasing the building from the Coast Guard, HRMM replaced the slate roof and furnished the interior and began giving tours. In the late 1990s, the Coast Guard divested itself of the property, giving the City of Kingston first refusal. Kingston accepted the lighthouse and HRMM now works with the City on preservation and interpretation of the lighthouse for the general public.
Learn more about the Hudson River Maritime Museum: http://www.hrmm.org/