History Videos · Keepers

USLHS Historian Video #3 – Kate Walker at Robbins Reef

Kate Walker, USLHS archives

Kate Walker, who would become one of the most famous lighthouse keepers in the world, was born Katherine Gortler in Germany in 1846. She was appointed keeper at Robbins Reef Lighthouse off the northern tip of Staten Island in New York Harbor after her husband died in 1886. By her own account, Kate saved fifty people from drowning during her years at the lighthouse, but estimates by others range as high as seventy-five. Kate remained keeper until 1919. She died in 1931, at the age of eighty-four, after a long illness. She will never be forgotten for the long years she served the mariners of New York Harbor, honoring her husband’s last request — “Mind the light, Kate.”

4 thoughts on “USLHS Historian Video #3 – Kate Walker at Robbins Reef

  1. I think Kate’s story is amazing and wonder if it will ever become a movie. I think there is enough in this true story to captivate audiences of all ages.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful video. Kate was a strong woman. I grew up hearing stories of her and her life on Robbins reef. She was my great great aunt. When I was a teenager, two of my cousins and myself got permission from the coast guard to visit the lighthouse. Our visit was reported in the Staten Island Advance.

    1. Wow, what a great family legacy, Kim. That visit must have been really exciting. Yes, I think she was an incredibly strong woman in many ways.

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