Monsey Memories: The Stony Point Lighthouse
Completed in 1826, the Stony Point lighthouse in Stony Point, Rockland County, was the very first lighthouse on the Hudson River.
Located on the cliffs on the west side of the Hudson River at Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site in Stony Point this landmark continues to stand as a testament to a different time in Rockland County.
Built in 1826, Stony Point Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on the Hudson and marked the entrance to the Hudson Highlands. In 1825, the United States Congress authorized the construction of a lighthouse on the west shore of the Hudson River at Stony Point due to the increased traffic on the river after the opening of the Erie Canal. This beacon marked the narrowing of the river above Haverstraw Bay and assisted ship captains approaching from the south to distinguish the rocky point from the mountains behind it.
Designed by architect Thomas Phillips of New York City, the 30-foot-tall lighthouse stands 150 feet above the high-tide line. The specifications called for the construction of an “octagonal pyramid to be built of blue split stone and the best quick lime mortar”.
The total construction cost of the lighthouse and the stone keeper’s cottage was $3,350. The light was first lit on December 1, 1826, by Cornelius Lansing, the first lighthouse keeper.
The lighthouse stands within the grounds of the Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site and is situated on a high promontory with sweeping views up and down the Hudson River. The Battlefield was preserved as a public historic park in 1898 and reclassified as a state historic site in 1976. The ten-acre tip of the peninsula supported a federal manned light station until 1977. Over the years, the light station property and its buildings were slowly given to the state historic site as technology reduced the need for the old infrastructure necessary to aid shipping on the river.
Today the United States Coast Guard owns the footprint for the 1925 metal aid to navigation light tower, which sits at the water’s edge on the very tip of Stony Point. This active aid supports the system of lights and signals which guide shipping in the modern era.
During its years of operation, eight men and women served as lightkeepers. Mrs. Nancy Rose served for the longest, having taken over the light keeper’s duties following the death of her husband, Alexander Rose, in 1857. Mrs. Rose faithfully maintained the light at Stony Point Lighthouse until her death in 1904.
The Stony Point Lighthouse operated for 99 years, being decommissioned in 1925 and replaced by a steel light tower near the shoreline. The lighthouse was fully automated in 1973.