U.S. Congress appropriated $5,000 for a lighthouse at the mouth of the Esopus Creek. It was required to guide ships away from nearby shallows and into the Esopus Creek when Saugerties was a major port with daily commercial and passenger transportation.
Construction began by Charles Hooster of Saugerties, who was awarded the low bid $2,988. The lighthouse was built atop a pier constructed of chestnut cribbing with stone fill. The lighthouse itself was a rectangular structure with a circular tower in the center. The light source was five whale oil lamps with parabolic reflectors.
Lighthouse destroyed by fire. By 1850, the lighthouse was rebuilt on the old site. Four mineral oil lamps replaced the earlier whale oil lamps.
Lantern refitted with sixth-order Fresnel lens and Argand lamp, visible at a distance of 10 nautical miles spanning an arc of visibility of 225 degrees.
Congress appropriated $25,000 for construction of the present lighthouse
The present lighthouse became operational. It was built on a massive circular stone base sixty feet in diameter. The lantern and lens from the original lighthouse were relocated to the new building. The foundation for the original lighthouse remains as a small island adjacent to the exisiting lighthouse.
The cast-iron lantern room was installed with an iron-plate walkway around it for cleaning the outside of the glass.
The Saugerties harbor was enlarged to improve access by dredging the Esopus Creek and constructing a jetty. A small road was made to connect the lighthouse to the mainland atop the jetty created from the dredging spoils.
A post light was established July 22, 1891, on the outer end of the south dike, which was added to the duties of the resident keeper.
The boathouse was moved to the stone pier, and a new fence with two gates was built around the pier.
Material for the replacement of the footbridge from the stone pier to the adjacent island was landed. The stonework of the pier was pointed up.
Contract was made for repairing the foundation piling here. The work consisted of driving a row of piling outside of the old damaged piling, securing the piles with an inside and outside waling strip, furnishing stone to fill in behind the piles and up to the pile tops, and furnishing tie bars to anchor the waling strip to the stone pier of the light-house. The work was begun on November 24 and on December 9, 1903 was completed.
A fog bell established on the tower, struck by clockwork machinery (Gamewell 10,000-blow fog-bell striking machine).
Oil house completed on north side for storage of kerosene and other inflammable supplies.
Major repairs made to the Lighthouse.
Electricity, steam heat and telephone were added. Electric fog bell installed.
The Coast Guard automated the light, making the light keepers obsolete. The building was closed up. Due to neglect, it fell into disrepair and decay in subsequent years.
Aid to navigation removed from tower to a single pipe structure on adjacent island. Horn used instead of bell for fog signal.
Saugerties Art Council formed a committee to attempt to save the Lighthouse.
Local historian Ruth Reynolds Glunt and architect Elise Barry succeeded in placing the Lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places. This stimulated local citizens to restore the building.
As the condition of the Lighthouse continued to deteriorate, the beacon was removed from the tower and moved onto a post 50 feet to the east.
Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy formed with the purpose of acquiring the Lighthouse and restoring it to its former glory. The Coast Guard relinquished jurisdiction over the Lighthouse, and the property reverted to New York State.
Assemblyman Maurice Hinchey and Senator Charles Cook co-sponsored a bill selling the Lighthouse and the adjacent wetlands to the Conservancy for the sum of $1.
After extensive fundraising and restoration work the building was completely reconstructed. The Coast Guard installed a solar-powered beacon, and the lighthouse was officially re-commissioned as an aid to navigation on August 4, 1990.
above: The Saugerties, one of many steamboats aided by the Lighthouse. Photo by Ruth Reynolds Glunt.
above: Historic photo of the Saugerties Lighthouse showing both original fog bells.
above: Lighthouse Tender Chester Glunt breaking river ice in early spring. Photo by Ruth Reynolds Glunt.