Tour of Fire Island Lighthouse

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Students from Bethpage High School and John F. Kennedy Middle School visited the Fire Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1858. Students climbed 182 steps to the top of the lighthouse, which was the second built in the same location. The previous lighthouse, built in 1826, was too short to effectively warn ships at sea that were approaching land. The top of the lighthouse offered an unobstructed view of the other towns on Fire Island and to the east. When the lighthouse was built, it was on the western edge of the island, near the inlet. Today, due to the actions of the current, known to littoral drift, the inlet is six miles away. Prior to electricity, whale oil lamps provided the light source. The students learned how a first order Fresnel lens magnified and projected lamp light out to sea. This was a great lesson in refraction and physics! Students were also taught how passengers aboard ships that ran aground were rescued.

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