National Lighthouse Day
at the Old Field Point Lighthouse

August 8, 1999

Thanks to the efforts of my friend Mike Seewald, myself and several other lighthouse fans got the rare opportunity to see the Long Island Sound from the tower of the Old Field Point lighthouse. Included in the attendees were folks whom I have met online, passersby with good timing, Bob Scroope of the New England Lighthouse Lovers (NELL), Jerry Leeds of Leeds Corporation and Mr. and Mrs. Cliff Benfield of the Horton Point lighthouse. The weather started out foggy, which Mike promptly blamed on me, but did clear up for a while.

As many Long Islanders know, the Old Field Point light has been off-limits to visitors for decades. In my research thus far, I've found newspaper clippings as far back as the 1950's, and as recent as 1996, where residents of the area or members of the local government have complained about people wanting to visit the light. Just as long-lived, and more widespread, has been the feeling that keeping a historic site such as this one from the public is a disservice to those who value and respect the history, importance, and educational value of lighthouses. This was changed for a few hours on one Sunday afternoon.

While the lighthouse is still off-limits to the public (trust me, I spoke to the mayor about it), perhaps a foot has been placed in the door. The Old Field lighthouse has a long, rich history which includes its having been kept by one of the few female lighthouse keepers on Long Island, Mary Foster. More of the light's history can be found on my Old Field Point page, and in my upcoming book. A mahogany clock which hung from the walls of the lighthouse when Edgar MacKay was its keeper is now owned by the Huntington Historical Society; few other artifacts or archival materials are readily available to the public.

I would be horribly remiss if I did not thank Jeff and Claudia Krachts for being our graceful hosts for the afternoon.

Below are some images from our afternoon at the Old Field Point lighthouse. I hope that one day you may all have  the pleasure of visiting this wonderful part of Long Island history.

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The east side of the building. Note the blocked-in window in the kitchen.
The Plum Island light has the same window blocked.

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Mike's daughter, Rachel, was wondering what type of birds were on an offshore rock.
Being the ever-ready birdwatcher that I am, I took a look and discovered them to be cormorants,
many of them still young.

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Looking toward the Village of Old Field.
The building on the left is the keeper's quarters from the original 1824 light.

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Looking west.

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Looking out the tower window at the Long Island Sound.

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Looking down from the service room.

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The ladder from the service room up to the lantern.

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The Vega VRB-25 optic, which flashes red and green as it rotates.

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Mike Seewald, myself, Bob Scroope and an unidentified gentleman.
Note the scuttle door through which the man on the right is about to pass. That's the only passage between the lantern and watch deck. It's a pretty tight fit.

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Mr. and Mrs. Benfield and myself. It's always a pleasure to be in their company.

 

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