History Videos

USLHS Historian Video #5 – Race Rock Lighthouse, New York

Race Rock Lighthouse, NY; USLHS photo.

The four-mile long stretch of water between Little Gull Island and Fishers Island to the northeast — known as The Race — marks the place where Long Island Sound, Block Island Sound, and Fishers Island Sound all meet. The Race develops currents in excess of five knots and has been treacherous to navigation for centuries. In the late 1860s, funds were appropriated for the construction of a lighthouse on Race Rock, about 3200 feet off the southern tip of Fishers Island.

Francis Hopkinson Smith (Wikimedia Commons)

Two fascinating characters were involved in the construction of the lighthouse: Francis Hopkinson Smith, who was also a successful artist and writer, and master diver Thomas Scott. Construction took almost eight years in all and included a major tragedy.

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