Montauk Point Light is a famous lighthouse and private museum situated on the easternmost point of Long Island in the hamlet of Montauk in East Hampton. Located next to the Montauk Point State Park, the lighthouse has been lighting the way for sailors and fishermen for over 200 years and is a designated National Historic Landmark.

The oldest lighthouse in New York State, the construction of Montauk Point Light was authorized by President George Washington and the Second Congress in 1792. Construction began in June of 1796 and completed in November of the same year. First lit in 1797, Montauk Point Light was the first lighthouse in New York State and one of the oldest surviving working lighthouses in the country today. Standing at 110'6" high, the regal tower flashes every five seconds and can be seen a distance of 17 nautical miles.

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© Montauk Point Light

Montauk Point Light has had a rich history, surviving a massive hurricane in 1938, was transformed into a heavily fortified army base during the Second World War and narrowly missed being demolished in 1967, but was saved due to a wave of protests.

When Montauk Point Light was first lit in 1797, light was supplied by burning whale oil. The whaling industry was growing at the time, and the lighthouse continued to burn whale oil for more than a century. When whale oil started becoming scarce, and petroleum was discovered, the tower switched to kerosene in the 1860s and converted to a kerosene wick permanently.

Due to its location atop Turtle Hill, Montauk Point Lighthouse has been a focal point in New York’s history, being the first welcoming beacon to travelers sailing from Europe. When trade across the trans-Atlantic route started to take off, and immigrants began to flood to American shores, New York was the preferred destination for ships carrying merchandise or settlers, and Montauk Point Light, like the Statue of Liberty, came to symbolize the transformation of the once colonial enclave into a powerful, independent trading nation.

In 1981, the Montauk Point Light was the first welcoming beacon of light for the American hostages returning from Iran and donned a giant yellow ribbon around the deck with the letters ‘Welcome Home.’

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2.The Montauk Lighthouse Museum

The Montauk Lighthouse Museum
© Montauk Point Light

The Montauk Lighthouse Museum is located in the building that used to be 1860 Keepers’ house and features an array of informative and entertaining exhibits, including historical documents and photographs, showcasing the rich history of the lighthouse. The Museum is home to the Museum Parlor, in which two relevant documents signed by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson in 1792, to construct a lighthouse at Montauk Point, and by President George Washington in 1796, authorizing the federal purchase of land for the purpose of building a lighthouse at Montauk Point. The Gilmartin Galleries features a harrowing exhibit about the whaling industry in the 19th century with several artifacts used at the time.

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3.The Montauk Oceans Institute and Surf Museum

The Montauk Oceans Institute and Surf Museum
© Montauk Point Light

Montauk Point is also home to the Montauk Oceans Institute and Surf Museum, which feature exhibits regarding ecology and surf culture with the aim of educating the public about the importance of oceanography, marine science, and physical science, as well as the part surfing played in the history of the Montauk region. The museum is housed in the fog signal building, which was built in 1897 and formerly housed machinery for lighthouse’s the old fog signal.

The E. Virgil and Elaine Wingate Conway Visitor Center

The E. Virgil and Elaine Wingate Conway Visitor Center was established in 2005 and feature a beautiful open-air patio on which to relax over coffee and soak up the views, a ticket booth, and a gift shop.

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4.Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit
© Montauk Point Light

Montauk Point Light is located at 2000 New York 27, Montauk and is open year-round at various times according to the season. Tours for groups of 20 visitors or more (school groups included) are available and can be reserved in advance. The lighthouse can be rented for special occasions such as weddings, social gatherings, and other celebrations and there are special events held at the lighthouse throughout the year. Popular annual events include Halloween’s Haunted Lighthouse and Lighting, whereby the building is lit up with small fairy lights for the festive season.

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2000 New York 27, Montauk, New York 11954, Phone: 631-668-2544

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Montauk Point Light