On September 22, 2002 the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse charter group (part of the Save the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse Commission) received the title for the lighthouse under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2002 pilot disposal program. The transfer of stewardship was the culmination of 12 years of volunteer dedication toward the stabilization, restoration and preservation of the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. This last wooden lighthouse on the Hudson River, nicknamed “The Maid of the Meadows,” is now guaranteed a future because of the dedicated efforts of the Save the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse Commission (SELC). They started in 1990 and have been working diligently ever since to preserve this wonderful Hudson River treasure.
The ceremony took place at Lighthouse Park on the shore of the river in the town of Esopus. The backdrop of the river and the lighthouse couldn’t have been more beautiful as the title was signed by Dennis R. Smith, Boston Regional Administrator for GSA and Sharon Jones, Executive Director of the SELC. Commander Keith Turo, from U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D. C., also presented Ms Jones with a symbolic key to the lighthouse. A special treat for all in attendance was a pre-lighting ceremony of the light that will eventually be placed in the lighthouse. John Ralston, who has been working hard on this project, flicked the switch and lit the 250mm lens to the sounds of cheers from all in the audience.
Before and after the ceremony visitors were invited to visit the lighthouse to see the restoration progress completed by the hard working volunteers. Transportation to the light was supplied by the Dutchess County B.O.C.E.S vessel R/V Estuary Steward. On the way to the lighthouse, visitors witnessed a water display from the local fireboat to celebrate the important event. Visitors were impressed with the way the group stabilized and made level the beloved lighthouse. Future plans are in the works for the creation of a cable rope ferry to the lighthouse across the shallow mud flat, which is the reason why the Esopus Meadows lighthouse was constructed. According to Sharon Jones, “Whether or not the organization decides to create a bed and breakfast or an environmental interpretive center, the Maid of the Meadows will be around for future generations to enjoy.”
Jim Crowley is the author of the book Lighthouses of New York and webmaster of www.nylighthousephotos.com.
This story appeared in the
December 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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