Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The National Lighthouse Museum

 Back in December I wrote about my first trip to Staten Island and promised that the National Lighthouse Museum would be getting it's own post...then I never got a chance to do it. With the end of year stuff that's always busy, multiple further adventures and then when the new year started I ended up getting into a project that saw me go through my entire tradelist and make sure it was correct on the Trading Card Database...and it's a good thing I did that since I found it was really inaccurate. The cards that were listed as being there but had been traded was smaller than I expected, but I found literally a few thousand cards that weren't listed that should have been. I finished that on Monday so now, finally, I have the time to write up another post. 

The National Lighthouse Museum is located in Staten Island NY, right across the Hudson River from Brooklyn. It's a really cool museum for me because the vast majority of the story is told through scale models! Obviously that's something very important to me. The museum itself is located in one of the buildings that was used as the supply depot for the National Lighthouse organization...this was where the parts were stored and distributed to all the lighthouses in the USA. But it's not going to be in there long. By 2023 they plan to be in the building next door, also part of that system, that will offer them about 3 times more space for displays and artifacts. It was already great but being 3 times bigger can only be better when it comes to museums, so we are looking forward to that...we know for sure we will be going back when the new building is opened. 

This is the current building. It's not really all that large. When the new building is opened, this one will become the gift shop! 

The lighthouse models are themselves displayed in a scale lighthouse...on the inside is a small introduction video which is quite cool in and of itself. Supposedly each lighthouse in the USA and some from around the world are depicted here, with most being models but a couple being photographs. I photo documented them all, but only showing some here. 

This is the closest one to me, it's about 45 minutes from home.

What's the Statue of Liberty doing here? Well, from 1886-1903, the torch she holds was a lighthouse beacon. At that time, though, the lights of the city of New York overpowered her torch so she stopped being an official lighthouse, and when Black Tom Island exploded, she was badly damaged and the original light was shattered. 

These are Lightships. They are essentially mobile lighthouses. 
We were there just two weeks before Christmas so it was decorated.

The original Colossus of Rhodes, which was felled by an earthquake in 226 BC, is not actually known what it looked like...but is presumed to have been nude. (the ancient Greeks were not big fans of sculping pants) Despite standing for less than 60 years, it was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and is still known and talked about today. 

This is probably my favorite model there, showing the wave battering the lighthouse. Also, I've seen Nauset Lighthouse in person. 
Now, moving past the models, most of the rest of the museum is photos and documentation, which I love. But there are some artifacts...

The timeline is cool. I have it all photo documented on my website.
Lighthouse keeper artifacts
All the lines here are leading to the local lighthouses. The waters around New York Harbor are actually very treacherous and contain a lot of unseen rocks and obstacles, prompting the need for many lighthouses.
An air horn.
The timeline is quite large

They even cover trading cards! I have one of the cards in this set but have not scanned it yet. 
A light. Note the prism affect, which makes the light shine better at night, apparently.

All the lights on display actually work

Back to the displays of model lighthouses, I took one photo of each of the panels. I am posting them here in full.

They also have a section on famous lighthouse keepers.

The small building on the left is the current museum. The large building on the right is the one they are working towards moving into! 

I posted all the lighthouse models and more on my website, which you can see here: National Lighthouse Museum

Thanks for reading! 


  1. I had to look up the Minot's Ledge Lighthouse after seeing that model. Crazy that it's in the middle of the water. I wonder how the heck they built it.

    1. I often wonder about that kind of thing too...must have been a real challenge!

  2. Somehow I had never heard about the Black Tom explosion. Very interesting to read about.

    1. I first heard about it on the History Channel back when they actually showed documentaries...wish they still did.

  3. I was just reading about this museum a couple of weeks ago. After doing so, and now after seeing your post, I am seriously considering making the trip up there to see it once they get settled into their new building.

    1. I suspect it would be worth it! I'll have an update post when it's opened up as well, so you can really get an idea of if you want to make that trip.