According to an old Native American legend, there was a giant devil who caused much mayhem in a region that included parts of what is now Westchester County and the Bronx, New York, and portions of southeastern Connecticut. The giant was chased from the area by warriors, but he threw huge rocks at them across Long Island Sound. Some of the boulders landed in the sound and he used them as stepping stones to make an escape. Early maps noted the reefs in Long Island Sound as the “Devil’s Stepping Stones” after the Native American legend.
Stepping Stones Lighthouse was built in 1876 to warn mariners of the dangerous rocks and also to serve as a guide into the East River. The light was automated in 1964, and the lighthouse was awarded to the Town of North Hempstead in 2008 under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The Town of North Hempstead, the Great Neck Park District, and the Great Neck Historical Society have forged a public/private partnership to work for the restoration of the lighthouse.
The lighthouse is in poor condition and is in desperate need of repair. If it decays any further, there is a probability that it will be demolished, and a modern automated navigational beacon erected in its place. Bob Muller is the president of the Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society and author of the book Long Island’s Lighthouses: Past and Present. Bob Lincoln was the longtime commissioner of the Great Neck Parks District and is the committee chairperson of the Stepping Stones Lighthouse Restoration Committee.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org