Though the fog may be thick, this grand brick lighthouse gets the job done. Set on the Hudson River between two northern Valley towns, the two-story, Second Empire-style structure buttresses its shining beacon, which flashes 46 feet above the water. The building was constructed between 1873 and 1874 to alert ship captains to the presence of the Middle Ground Flats — a strip of wetlands disguised by high tides, posing serious hazards for the vessels traveling the busy shipping route. The Flats were so dangerous, in fact, that several ships ran aground, prompting widespread petitioning to Congress. After serious consideration of these requests, construction was approved and the edifice was built, complete with a keepers room, kitchen, dining room, lantern room, and four bedrooms, all of which were once inhabited by the keepers and their families. Though many keepers managed the lighthouse for only a short time, some stayed as long as 25 years.
Since its opening more than a century ago, the beacon has not only prevented ships from running aground, but has also served as a destination for families throughout the Valley. Maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, the building is open to visitors who are invited to tour the structure once a month throughout the summer and fall seasons. Tourists hear real-life stories from Emily Brunner — who lived in the lighthouse during the 1930s and ’40s while her father worked as the keeper — as they explore antique rooms, discover the structure’s rich history, and climb the stairs to the lantern room where they can savor breathtaking views of the Catskills.
Once the tour of the historic site is complete, visitors can make their way to the eastern shoreline and stroll the locale best known for its thriving arts and food culture. History buffs might opt to skip the art galleries and restaurants and, instead, head to the western banks to see the town famous for its historic 18th- and 19th-century buildings, including the Isaac Northrup House. One thing’s for sure: Whether you’re looking for a short adventure, or a day’s-worth of exploring, touring the lighthouse is certain to be a fun activity for the whole family. Tours this month are held on Saturday, September 14.
Do you know the name of this bright beacon? Send us your answer as a comment in the box below. The first reader with the correct response wins a prize. Good luck!