The Fire Island Lighthouse has lit the sky for nearly 200 years.

Fire Island has come a long way since its days of Native Americans manufacturing wampum and hunting whales offshore to the treasured weekend getaway it is today. At one time it was downright dangerous. The island’s offshore sandbars, which lie six to nine feet below the surface a quarter of a mile from the shoreline, once proved treacherous to ships sailing parallel to Long Island to enter New York’s busy port. According to the National Park Service, approximately 200 known and an estimated 640 unidentified ships wrecked off the coast of Fire Island beginning in the mid-1600s as ships hit the sandbars, masts snapped, and hulls were destroyed in the rise and fall of the ocean waves. And there were no lighthouses in New York State until the Department of the Treasury assumed jurisdiction over them in 1789. The first lighthouse in the state was built in 1797 at Montauk Point but there was still over 130 miles of unlit coastline for ships to travel before hitting Lower New York Bay and the lighthouse at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

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