Lifesaving Stations on L.I.

Footnotes to Long Island History

 Lifesaving Stations on L.I.

Thomas R. Bayles



The 30 life saving stations and their crews performed an important service along the Long Island coast in the years gone by, when wrecks were a common thing in the ocean along the coast. Many an heroic rescue was made by the sturdy men who made up the life savings crews. The following article appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for April 6, 1902.

 "There are thirty life-saving stations scattered along the Long Island Coast from Montauk Point to Rockaway Point, as follows:

 Ditch Plain,  William B. Miller, keeper.

 Hither Plain,  William D. Parsons, keeper.

 Napeague,  John S. Edwards, keeper.

 Amagansett,  Jesse B. Edwards, keeper.

 Georgica, Nathaniel Dominy, keeper.

 Mecox, John W. Hedges, keeper.

 Southampton, Nelson Burnett, keeper.

 Shinnecock, Alanson G. Penny, keeper.

 Tiana, John E. Carter, keeper.

 Quogue, Charles H. Herman, keeper.

 Potunk, Isaac Gildersleeve, keeper.

 Moriches, Gilbert H. Seaman, keeper.

 Forge River, Ira G. Ketcham, keeper.

 Smith's Point, John Penny, keeper.

 Bellport, Henry Kremer, keeper.

 Blue Point, Frank Rorke, keeper.

 Lone Hill, George E. Stoddard, keeper.

 Point  O'  Woods, William H. Miller, keeper.

 Fire Island, J.  T.  Doxsee, keeper.

 Oak Island, Edgar Freese, keeper.

 Gilgo, William E. Austin, keeper.

 Jones Beach, Steven Austin, keeper.

 Zach's Inlet, Philip K. Chichester, keeper.

 Short Beach, John Edwards, keeper.

 Point Lookout, Andrew Rhode, keeper.

 Long Beach, Richard Van Wicklen, keeper.

 Rockaway, William Rhinehart, keeper.

 Rockaway Point, Daniel B. Abrams, keeper.

 Eatons Neck, Henry E. Keteham, keeper.

 Rocky Point, Harvey S. Brown, keeper.


 "When the giant waves cast some battered ship upon the rocks or sand bar, and the crew faces death in the ice clad rigging, it is often a scant paragraph which tells the public that 'the crew was safely taken off by the life savers.' Since Christmas 1901 there have been more than 30 disastrous wrecks along the Long Island coast, and over 300 lives have been saved by the life savers.

 "During the Winter months hardly a week goes by without urgent demand arising for their services. The men of the crews are trained to the work, and are physical giants, chosen for the posts they hold because of their hardihood and knowledge of the sea. Each of the life saving stations is in charge of a keeper, who receives $75 a month, and a crew of seven surfmen, who receive $65 a month while on duty. The keepers engage their own crews for a term of one year The Winter men begin work December 1 and quit April 30. The captains generally remain on duty throughout the entire year, but the surfmen have a two-month vacation without pay. 

 "When a patrolmen start on his bear from a station within communicating distance of another station, he is given a numbered check, which he carries until he meets the patrolmen from the adjacent station, with whom he exchanges checks. Each patrolmen carries with him a beach lantern or Coston signals, or red lights. At isolated stations are located small houses called key posts. The men on these beats carry a clock, and on reaching the key psot each man makes an impression on the time dial with the key secured  at the post, These patrol checks are kept in the keeper's room with the keys not in use. Each key is numbered, and the keys are numbered, and the keys in the posts are changed every week to insure the integrity of the patrol.

 "If a vessel is seen too close to the shore during the night, the patrolman burns a red Coston signal to warn off the captain of the ship, and if the vessel has been grounded, to inform the captain that he has been noticed and that help is at hand. The surf boat is placed on a wagon with wide tires, and hauled along the beach to the nearest point opposite the wreck, where it is launched if the sea condition permits. If the launching is impossible the crew prepares to shoot a line to the ship. The gun, a small mounted cannon, is loaded and the shot inserted. To the end of this shot is attached a line tied to an endaboard the vessel. If the shot line reaches the ship, the attached line with a sign board attached is hauled on board by those on the wreck. Printed on the board in two languages, English and German, are the instructions 'Make the tail rope fast to the lower mast, and if the masts are gone, to the best place convenient."

 "When the lines are bein shot to the vessel, several members of the life saving crew place the sand anchor and fasten the hawser, to which is attached a breeches buoy attached, is hauled off shore above the water to the stranded vessel.

 "As soon as the hawser is made fast those on board prepare to leave the wrecked ship by stepping into the breeches buoy, which is a circular canvas arrangement made like a pair of trousers. A leg is inserted into each canvas opening and the person is hauled ashore."

 With improved navigational methods it is very seldom that a wreck occurs along the Long Island coast any more, and most of the life saving stations that were in operation in 1902 have disappeared.

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