Crazy Facts About the Fire Island Lighthouse

Written by Ls Cohen  |  19. December 2019

Long Island has more than 20 lighthouses. No wonder since we are an island - no matter what the politicians say about it really being a peninsula (click for story) - and our waterways are very well travelled by both commercial and recreational boaters.


While the Fire Island Lighthouse isn’t the oldest on Long Island - that designation goes to Montauk’s famous tower - the lighthouse has a unique and storied history of its own. It's also a movie star!


Below we list some crazy and interesting facts (and legends) about the Fire Island lighthouse.


  • The Fire Island Lighthouse is 168-feet tall
  • It's the tallest lighthouse on Long Island (It beats Montauk Lighthouse)
  • You can see the NYC skyline from the top
  • The lighthouse has182 steps up to get to the observation gallery
  • The existing structure is actually the second Fire Island Lighthouse
  • The first Fire Island Lighthouse was built in 1826 and was 74 feet tall


Photo: Fire Island Light House. From Fire Island Light House Preservation Society Facebook page.

  • This first lighthouse was too short and the stone was used to build the terrace for the current lighthouse
  • Congress appropriated $40,000 for the construction of the new lighthouse in 1857
  • The present-day lighthouse and terrace was lit on November 1, 1858
  • The foundation of the original lighthouse can still be seen
  • It’s haunted! Legend has it that in the 1800s, a caretaker was so upset by the death of his child that he hung himself and his spirit now allegedly his roams lighthouse. People report seeing a ghostlike figure inside, sometimes holding a rope
  • The Fire Island Lighthouse was originally cream colored and got its black and white bands in 1891
  • Fuels used for the lamps in the lighthouse included whale oil, lard oil, mineral oil and kerosene
  • Fire Island was electrified on September 20, 1938 but the next day a hurricane hit and delayed the electrification of the lamps until 1939
  • The Fire Island Lighthouse was decommissioned on December 31, 1973
  • It was replaced by a "small flash tube optic" on the Robert Moses State Park Water Tower
  • In 1974 people came together to save the Fire Island Lighthouse
  • In 1984, the Fire Island Lighthouse was put on the National Register of Historic Places


Photo: Fire Island Light House. From Fire Island Light House Preservation Society Facebook page.

  • In 1986, the lighthouse was relit and once again became an official aid to navigation
  • Nowadays the lamp consists of two 1000-watt bulbs
  • The bulbs rotate in a counter-clockwise direction, which seem to flash every 7.5 seconds
  • The Fire Island Lighthouse signal is visible for over 20 miles
  • In 2006 the lighthouse was privatized when the US Coast Guard gave operations to the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society
  • The Lighthouse is now managed and maintained by the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society and their volunteers
  • The lighthouse was constructed on the western edge of Fire Island but the inlet has accumulated sand and the lighthouse is now almost five miles from the western end of the island at Democrat Point
  • The lighthouse is a movie star! The lighthouse was filmed for Men in Black II, What Happens in Vegas, the television show, The Following, and the documentary, Drain the Oceans

Photo: Fire Island Light House. From Fire Island Light House Preservation Society Facebook page.


Schedule a visit to the lighthouse or learn more about it from the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society.

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