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North Dumpling Light

North Dumpling Light

Ten years before the establishment of North Dumpling Lighthouse, area charts indicated that a light boat operated northeast of Flat Hammock and southeast of North Dumpling Island. From this position the light ship marked the entrance to Fishers Island West Harbor and served to direct traffic through Fishers Island Sound.

North Dumpling Island has had 5 owners since 1639, with the first change of owners in 1847 when the Winthrop family (descendants of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) sold the property to the U. S. Government for $600. The red-brick, 2-story lighthouse was constructed in 1849. This light replaced the lightship that was in place to mark the entrance of Fishers Island Sound. In 1879 the current light tower was first lit.

During Prohibition, isolated coastal beaches and islands were often used as transfer points for illegal booze. It was general Knowledge that some of the Maynards, as the residents of nearby Fishers Island were called, were actively partaking in "bootlegging". In April of 1923, the yacht Thelma-Phoebe was engaged in smuggling Scotch when a storm swept it up on the south side of Fishers Island. By the time the Coast Guard had arrived on the scene, most of the vessels cargo had been "liberated" by the locals. In December of the same year, whiskey from another vessel had similarly disappeared when it too was shipwrecked in almost the same spot as the Thelma-Phoebe. It was not surprising, then, that after having reports of "strange lights" in the vicinity of North Dumpling Island; the light station's keeper came under close scrutiny. Keeper Burkhart was said to have been "running extra lights around the lighthouse, which were used as signals between the mainland, boats and Fishers Island". His accuser claimed that he had seen the keeper storing, delivering and selling liquor to the citizens of Fishers Island" and receiving loads from ships at night". Though the Coast Guard did observe a green flair, a rocket, and sky signals from the island's vicinity, investigators never found any evidence that connected the keeper to smuggling activities.

In 1959, the lighthouse was decommissioned and the beacon was moved to a steel tower and automated. The light was returned to the tower on the lighthouse in the 1980's, at the request of Mr. Levitt, the fourth owner of the property who oversaw extensive renovations of the house and island.

The island is currently owned by Mr. Dean Kamen, who is a Segway inventor. After selling one of his inventions, Kamen purchased a helicopter. Kamen was informed by the wife of his helicopter flight instructor that North Dumpling Island was for sale. To get a close-up view, Kamen landed his helicopter on the island, much to the surprise of the occupants of the lighthouse. After purchasing the lighthouse and island, Kamen decided to erect a wind turbine for power. The state of New York objected to his plan, so Kamen seceded from the U.S. He signed a fictitious non-aggression treaty with his friend and then-President George H. Bush, and then-Governor of New Hampshire John Suenny. Mr. Kamen is reputed to have his own Navy, currency, flag, and anthem, and is sometimes referred to as Lord Dumpling II.

The Coast Guard still has access to the light and to the generator/sound house.

Operational Characteristics
Position 41° 17' 18" North
072° 01' 12" West
U.S. Coast Guard Light List Number 20145
Height of Tower 94 Feet (off water)
60 Feet (Actual Structure Height)
Light Characteristics Fixed White with a Red Sector
Present Optic 300 MM
Light Visual Range 9 Nautical Miles (7 Nautical Miles in the Red Sector)
Secondary / Emergency Light Characteristics None
Secondary / Emergency Optic N/A
Color of Tower Red brick
Sound Signal Horn
Sound Characteristics 1 Blasts every 30 seconds
National/State Register Status National: Not Listed
State: Not Listed

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Last Modified 9/19/2013