On the western edge of Fire Island National Seashore the Fire Island Lighthouse proudly towers over the land just as it has for more than 150 years. Travel to the lighthouse on a lazy summer afternoon and spend a few hours exploring Long Island’s and the lighthouse’s nautical history.
To get to the lighthouse take the Robert Moses Causeway south to the end to Parking Field 5, try to park on the east side of the parking lot and then follow the boardwalk to the lighthouse.
The current Fire Island Lighthouse was built in 1856 and sits 168 feet above sea level. The original lighthouse was only 89 feet above sea level and while it could be seen from as far away as 14 miles it wasn’t tall enough to prevent shipwrecks. It was taken down in 1858.
Inside the visitors center of the Fire Island Lighthouse is the original light. Three buildings on the Fire Island Lighthouse contain a a plethora of information about the history of the lighthouse.
“History is alive here,” Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society Administrator David Griese said.
Every year about 100,000 people visit the Fire Island Lighthouse and about 15,000 climb the tower. The lighthouse is open year-round with operation times varying depending on the season.
A variety of events take place at the lighthouse throughout the year including a barefoot black-tie gala, a lighthouse keeper’s tour and an art show fundraiser.
Climbing the lighthouse starts by walking through a small hallway to the bottom of the 192 steps to the top. When the lighthouse was first built there was no electricity and it was very dark inside so the stairs are open to allow light in, nowadays the lighthouse is full of light but visitors have to be careful about looking up least sand from someone’s shoes fall in their eyes.
Hold on tight
After climbing 104 steps a fourth window opens up to a north exposure. This is the halway point about 80 feet up with a view of the remnaments of the lighthouse dock and the flagpole.
The current flagpole is about the height of the first Fire Island Lighthouse
The last part of the climb is up a narrow ladder to the service room where the lighthouse keepers would spend each night.
The light above
And an amazing view.