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.”

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