Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Execution Rock's Lighthouse
Execution Rock's Lighthouse is a lighthouse in the middle of Long Island sound on the border between New Rochelle and Sand's Point, New York. It stands 55 feet tall, with a white light flashing every 10 seconds. The granite tower is painted white with a brown band around the middle. It has an attached stone keeper's house which has not been inhabited since the light was automated in 1979.
It is rumored that the lighthouse's site got its name before the American Revolutionary War when British colonial authorities executed people by chaining them to the rocks at low tide, allowing the rising water to drown them. This folklore has never been verified by any historical record. The name for this island was actually chosen to reflect the historically dangerous shipping area created by the rocks' exposure during low tides. On March 3, 1847, the United States Congress appropriated $25,000 for creation of Execution Rocks Lighthouse. Designed by Alexander Parris, construction was completed in 1849, although it was not lit until 1850. Over the years, it has survived both a fire and a shipwreck.
Although technically part of the city of New Rochelle, the island is under the authority of the United States Coast Guard and is off limits to the public. It can be seen, however, during the Long Island Lighthouse Society's Spring Cold Coast Cruise.
A Daboll trumpet was added to Execution Rocks Light on Jan 25, 1869.
The lighthouse was featured on the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures in 2009.
But the ghosts of the condemned had their revenge. A shipload of British soldiers, sent to pursue Washington on his retreat from Manhattan to White Plains, foundered at the reef. No redcoats survived.
The legend of the executions had such hold, that when lightkeepers were assigned to Execution Rocks, they were under a unique contract. No lightkeeper was to ever feel chained to the reef. Instead of stating a set length of duty, their contract read that their length of service was for as long as they were willing. If for any reason, they requested a transfer, it was instantly granted.
Specters have been seen on the rocks near the lighthouse, but the last Coast Guard keeper denied ever having seen anyone that could be construed as a ghost. But with its history, it’s hard to say if maybe he just wasn’t sensitive enough to see them. The lighthouse has also been the scene of fires two times, once in 1918 and once in 1921, both in the engine room. The first time, the fog signal, running for five hours, slowed, and the keeper went to investigate. When he opened the door to the room, he was greeted by flames. The second time, an overheated exhaust pipe caused the roof to catch fire. Perhaps the spirits of those executed and left on the rocks were taking their revenge.