The first lighthouse was constructed in 1837 of wood. This structure was quickly damaged by weather and ice. It was replaced in 1867 with a new lighthouse constructed of bluestone on a cut stone base. Both of these lighthouses were located on the Hudson River at the south side of Rondout Creek, much nearer to the shore than the current lighthouse. The circular stone base of the second lighthouse can still be seen.
The newest lighthouse on the Hudson River, started in 1913 and finished and commissioned in 1915, the current Rondout Lighthouse continues an important tradition started in 1837 of marking the vital river port of the Rondout. The Rondout was the terminus of the D&H Canal with the canal transporting vast amounts of Pennsylvania coal over the Shawangunk Mountains to the Hudson. From here, the canal barges were unloaded and the coal was transferred to river barks that took the coal down to New York City.
Later ice, farm products, bluestone, bricks and cement were loaded and transported from the Rondout down to New York City, greatly increasing the already busy river traffic. By the middle of the 19th century regular steamboat excursions were departing from the Rondout carrying both passengers and cargo to New York. This burgeoning river traffic necessitated the building of a lighthouse at the mouth of the Rondout Creek a necessity to warn captains of the dangers of the shore and the shallow tidal flats surrounding the mouth of the Rondout.
Well into the 1940s there was no electricy at the lighthouse. With the installation of electricity the need for a permanent lightkeeper at the lighthouse ended. The last keeper and his family left, the lighthouse was boarded up and the remaining furnishings were removed as automated systems took over operation.
In 2002 the U.S. Coast Guard turned over ownership of the lighthouse to the City of Kingston which partners with the Hudson River Maritime Museum to care for the structure. Although uninhabited, the lighthouse remains an important aid to navigation on the Hudson River and stands as a sentinel at the mouth of the Rondout Creek. The lighthouse brings back memories of paddle wheel steamboats and sailing ships transporting passengers and cargo from the vital river port of Kingston/Rondout.
Visiting the Lighthouse
Visiting the Rondout Lighthouse is both easy and pleasurable. Access to the lighthouse is via boat launch from the Hudson River Maritime Museum in the Rondout section of Kingston. The lighthouse contains period furnishings and exhibits documenting the history of the lighthouses on the Rondout and the keepers and their families. You can climb the tower and walk the outdoor platform, taking in a spectacular view of the Hudson and Rondout harbor.
The lighthouse is open for scheduled public visiting from May through October. The lighthouse is also open to school, summer camp, bus tour, and other organized groups on a charter basis.
Lighthouse Contacts & Address