Tower: Red brick;
approximately 160 feet; six feet thick at base, one foot thick at top; base,
built upon horizontal yellow pine logs, extended 18 feet into ground; inside
of tower was painted white, with the steps mahogany brown.
Light: fixed white;
light changed to flashing in 1914; flashing apparatus consisted of brass
shutters that hid the light for 2 1/2 seconds and clockwork mechanism that
required winding every 1 1/2 hours; light originally lit with lard oil (?),
later used kerosene oil, then kerosene vapor.
1854, August 3: $35,000
appropriated for a light house "near Great West Bay, Long Island, N.Y."
1855: Sites for "the light-houses
at Pondquog Point (Great West bay, Long Island,) Horton's Point, Long
island, and Race Point, Fisher's island" were surveyed and the locations of
the lights determined.
1856: The Annual Report states
that "the commencement of the erection of the light-houses authorized for
Great West bay, Horton's Point, Lloyd's harbor, Race Point... delayed for
want of valid titles to the respective sites."
1856, August 18: An additional
$12,000 is appropriated.
1857: "First class light-house at
Great West bay will be completed by 30th November."
1858, January 1: Light first lit.
1866, July 28: $5100 is
appropriated for repairs at "Esopus, Four-mile Point, Beavertail, Passaic,
Black Rock, & Great West Bay."
1867: "Brick work on tower
repointed, and together with foundation of keeper's dwelling, covered with
three coats of cement-wash.." Other repairs were also performed.
1869: Over the course of the year,
"six panes of plate glass for the lantern" were replaced. (This may have
been due to the light's recurring bird strike problems.)
1872, June 10: $4600 appropriated
for repairs at "Sands Point, Great West Bay & Fire Island."
1874: The repairs covered by the
June 1872 appropriation were completed.
1889: "A new line fence was built
and other fences repaired. Repairs to dwelling and barn were also made."
1890: An oil house was built.
1891: A new barn was built and the
keeper's quarters received a new shingle roof.
1894: A picket fence was put
around the front yard of the keeper's quarters.
1899: A telephone with the
life-saving station was established by underwater cable. The connection was
broken in December, but was repaired.
1901, November 4: The Light-House
Board considers changing the characteristic of the light from fixed to
flashing, and the electrification of the light.
1901, December 6: The Secretary of
the Treasury sends a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives
requesting funds to make the changes suggested by the Board.
1907, February 19: The light's
intensity was increased by changing the illuminant from oil to incandescent
1914, April 8: Fixed light
replaced with flashing light.
1931, August 1: Just after
sunrise, the light is extinguished for the last time.
1948, December 23: Demolished.
use: No longer in existence.
surrounding area: Ponquogue Point is south of Hampton Bays,
at the base of the Ponquogue Bridge. The bridge takes one over Shinnecock
Bay onto Dune Road. This is a lovely area for those who love the beach
and/or birdwatching. Check the NY area rare bird alert beforehand. If you
visit this spot early in the day, you'll still have time to visit Cedar
Point and Montauk Point.
access? Although there are no remains of the light to be
seen, aside from a 1902 oil house; you may visit the area freely.
information: This light was called Shinnecock Light, but was
also known as Ponquogue Light and Great West Bay Light.
Ponquogue Point was the inlet to Shinnecock Bay in the 1800s. Movement of sand bars
and changes caused by storms often change the face of Long Island (The
Gardiner's Island, Montauk Point, Cedar Island lighthouses and others show
further evidence of this).
Contact: I have much more information about this light,
including keepers' names, Coast Guard memos, the story of how this light
actually caused a fatal shipwreck on February 28th, 1858, and more
pictures. Stay tuned.
The Shinnecock light shortly before it fell
23, 1948. Note the smoke coming from the uppermost window. This is from the
fire at the base of the tower,
which was used to fell the tower. (Detail of Coast
The Coast Guard Station on Ponquogue Point
on January 1, 1999