Little Gull Island Lighthouse


Location: Seven miles northeast of Orient Point, where Block Island Sound and Long Island Sound meet.


  • Original structure: 50 foot stone tower.

  • Present structure:  81 feet, 350mm light, granite tower has 19 foot diameter at base, with walls 5 1/2 feet thick.

History of light:

  • 1803: Great Gull and Little Gull are purchased by the government for $800.

  • 1804: Original light constructed for $15,000 with the hopes of ending the loss of ships and lives in The Race.

  • 1807: A wall was erected on the northwest corner of the island.

  • 1815, September 23: A hurricane hits the island while the keeper is ashore. His wife and four children ride out the storm, which caused a loss of land at the tiny island. During the storm, much of the island was swept away. the water approached within four feet of the tower, and the dwelling was so undermined half of it hung over the bank.

  • 1817, May-August: A wall is built around the light to help hold back the seas which have begun to undermine the keeper's quarters. One of the workers on the light will later become the local Superintendent of Light-Houses.

  • 1857: A Third Order lens is installed in the lantern.

  • 1869: Present structure constructed, and a Second Order lens is installed.

  • 1977 or 1978: Automated.

  • 1995: Second Order lens moved to the East End Seaport Maritime Museum in Greenport.

Current use: Active aid to navigation.

The surrounding area: Little Gull and Great Gull lie between Plum Island and Fisher's Island, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Long Island Sound.

Public access? No. But you view it from one of the several cruises that visit it each year.

Similar Lights:  I know of no lights with a similar design.

Other information:















The Little Gull Lighthouse viewed from the south on
June 5, 1999. Note the unusual red roof.


The light as we turn into The Race.


This Second Order Fresnel lens was removed from Little Gull Island and brought to the East End Seaport Maritime Museum in 1995. The lens was brought in pieces and took volunteers about one month to reassemble. To give you an idea of the size of this lens, the fine looking young fellow next to it is six feet tall. Note the Fourth Order lens to the left.


Looking up into the lens.


Research materials for this lighthouse can be found at the East Islip Public Library, East Islip, New York.
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