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History: Old Time Photos of Montauk

We asked the Montauk Historical Society to dig into the archives to find us some old-timey photos that showed the way things used to be.

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Photo by Anthony Montemurro [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Henry Osmers, historian for the Montauk Lighthouse, which is part of the Montauk Historical Society, sent us these great old pictures in and around Montauk from back in the day. A few fun facts:


  • The Montauk Lighthouse is the 4th oldest lighthouse in continuous operation in the US.
  • The Long Island Rail Road extended its line to Montauk in 1895.
  • Robert Moses established the State Parks at Hither Hills and Montauk Point in 1926.
  • Col. Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders were officially disbanded at Montauk.
  • An innkeeper in the 1800s told his guests that every year 2,000 loads of wood washed ashore from shipwrecks, furnishing Montauk people with all the fuel they needed for their fires.


All photos provided by the Montauk Historical Society. For more information on Montauk history check out their website.



First House as seen in 1900. It was the first house built in Montauk (1744). It was destroyed by fire in 1909.



Visitors to the Montauk Lighthouse in the 1920s. This image is not possible to duplicate today, because the land from which this photo was taken has eroded away over the years. A project begun in 1970 and lasting nearly 30 years successfully halted the onslaught of the erosion and is to be reconstructed starting in the spring of 2020.



Ditch Plains Life Saving Station as seen in 1894. A station existed here in Montauk as early as 1854, which burned in 1891 and was rebuilt the following year. It became part of the US Coast Guard in 1915 and discontinued in 1956.



The old Montauk Fishing Village as seen in 1898. It was almost totally destroyed by the Hurricane of Sept. 21, 1938. Once rebuilt, it was taken over by the US Navy in 1942 during WWII. All buildings were moved or razed to make way for a torpedo testing station. The village never returned.



The Lewis King which ran aground at Montauk in 1887. It was never refloated and eventually broke up in 1890.



One of the earliest photos of the Montauk Lighthouse in 1884. It was built in 1796 and is the 4th oldest lighthouse in continuous operation in the US. It was designed a National Historic Landmark in 2012.



A photo of the Montauk Manor. Built in 1927, it was the centerpiece of Carl Fisher's plans to develop Montauk as a wealthy resort area. His plans collapsed when the stock market crash occurred in 1929. It was converted into condominiums in the 1980s.



Photo of a family picnic at Montauk Point State Park in 1930. The Montauk Lighthouse is seen in the background. A paved highway to the "Point" was finally completed in 1931.



Image of Second House, built 1797. It was occupied by shepherds who managed the sheep and cattle that were grazed on Montauk lands throughout the 1800s. It was owned privately during the first half of the 20th century until it was taken over by the Town of East Hampton and leased to the Montauk Historical Society, which opened a museum there in 1969. The house is currently under renovation.