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Rondout II Lighthouse
Photograph by John E. Reinhardt
The Hudson River, navigable to ships for 140 miles inland, provided an important commercial waterway into the continent via its western tributary, the Mohawk River. Substantial ship traffic warranted the establishment of a light station to mark the Kingston Harbor entrance at the mouth of Rondout Creek in 1837. The first tower, a flimsy wooden structure, survived until 1867 when it was replaced with "Rondout I", a bluestone house with a granite tower enclosed within the northeast corner. When the harbor entrance was realigned, the current lighthouse, "Rondout II", was built in 1915. Constructed of yellow brick on a foundation of concrete and 50-foot wooden pilings, the two-and-a-half story house has two cisterns for collecting rain water located in the basement level.

One of the station's keepers, Catherine Murdock, served for half a century (1857-1907). She replaced her husband who drowned while bringing supplies to the station. In addition to keeping the light, Mrs. Murdock rescued several seamen and entertained 20 to 30 visitors who came daily to climb the tower during pleasant summer weather. Winters, however, were "cold and dreary," punctuated by "heavy and perilous storms." Her son James became her assistant keeper in 1880, succeeded her as official keeper in 1907, serving until 1915.

Keepers no longer tend the light at Rondout Creek. It was automated in 1954 and the U.S. Coast Guard has replaced the sixth-order Fresnel lens with a modern optic. Ownership of Rondout II Lighthouse was transferred from the United States to the City of Kingston on June 9, 2002, under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The City of Kingston working in cooperation with the Hudson River Maritime Museum is renovating the property and providing public access through tours.

The Rondout II Lighthouse, located within the Kingston Urban Cultural Park Heritage Area, is only accessible by boat. Daily excursion boat tours are scheduled during the summer months by the Hudson River Maritime Museum located at 1 Rondout Landing in Kingston.


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