ROCK ISLAND NY LIGHTHOUSE
Limited Edition of 300 pieces
Size: 8 1/2 inches wide, 5 inches deep, 4 1/2 inches tall.
Sculpted by Harry Hine
A brief history of Rock Island
In 1847, the US government purchased three small islands on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Island Region. The islands became the base of a small, but vital network of lighthouses used to guide shipping through the narrow river channels and out onto Lake Ontario.
The first lighthouse built on Rock Island was a simple affair. A keeper's dwelling of brick with a low tower placed on top of the roof, standing a total of 39 feet.
In 1882, work started on extensive alterations to the light station. A short conical iron tower was built at the center of the island and a separate keeper's dwelling was erected off to the side of the tower.
It turned out that the relocation of the tower did not improve its ability to guide and warn shipping. The rate of shipwrecks and groundings dramatically increased. It was easy to see why, as many of the trees on the island and the new two story keeper's house blocked the light from the beacon. Also, when the island was approached from certain directions the light from the tower was hard to differentiate from the lights of homes on the river shore.
In the early 1900's it was decided to relocate the tower to the shore of the island allowing shipping a more unobstructed view of the lighthouse. A rubble and concrete walkway was constructed that led out into the river. At the end of the walkway a 15 foot wide short brick tower was erected. In 1903, the old iron tower was then moved from the center of the island to the top of the new brick tower.
Over the years, several buildings were added to the station to both improve life for the keepers and to make the station more efficient. A carpenter's shop was built in 1882. A generator house followed in 1900. Finally, the boat house in 1920.
One of the few original structures on the island is the oil house, which is believed to have served over the years as a smokehouse, a paint store and of course, storage for the fuel to keep the early lanterns alight
In 1958, the station was decommissioned. In 2010, $1.5 million dollars of state and federal funds made it possible to start an extensive restoration of the station. The island is now open to the public throughout the summer months.