History: Photo of the Shinnecock Lighthouse Toppling Over


Built in 1858, the lighthouse was destroyed by the Coast Guard in 1948.

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The Shinnecock Lighthouse before it was destroyed. USCG / Public domain

Shinnecock Lighthouse lit the dark shoreline of Long Island between Fire Island and Montauk Point, both of which already had beacons in 1858 when the tower in Hampton Bays was first illuminated.


By 1939, when the Coast Guard took control of the lighthouse it was determined to be unstable and had to be torn down. Despite pleas from locals to preserve it, in 1949 the lighthouse was toppled by chipping away the stone on one side of the base and setting the exposed timbers on fire. The picture taken by the Coast Guard shows the final moments of the tower. In some accounts it was also referred to as the Ponquogue Lighthouse.


A marker on the spot now reads: “Shinnecock Lighthouse stood here from 1858 until 1948. The 168-foot red brick tower was among the tallest on the East Coast. Its light was visible 18 miles at sea. Town of Southampton, 2012.”


For more history of the Shinnecock Lighthouse click here.


Photo: U.S. Coast Guard.