Stony Point Battlefield and Lighthouse State Historic Site

Reenactment at Stony Point Battlefield and Lighthouse New York State Historic Site. (Author)

Early in the morning of July 16, 1779, Gen. Anthony Wayne and his Corps of Light Infantry successfully stormed the British works at Stony Point, launching the rocky peninsula on the Hudson River into the American memory. Having served as both a garrison and a western landing of the King’s Ferry for nearly the entirety of the American Revolution, Stony Point also featured a lighthouse active in the nineteenth century before becoming a park and historic site in the twentieth century. Prospective visitors might wish to learn more about the site today, so a site profile has been prepared.

Where is Stony Point Located?
Stony Point Battlefield and Lighthouse State Historic Site is located in the town of Stony Point in New York’s Rockland County. About twelve miles south of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Stony Point juts out into the Hudson River from her west shore like a sore thumb. Following Route 9W, visitors turn onto Park Road followed briefly by a tour through a residential area before turning onto Battlefield Road and arriving at the site’s entrance. Typing “44 Battlefield Road, Stony Point, NY, 10980” into a GPS will direct you to the correct location.

Who are some of the key partners and supporters of Stony Point?
Stony Point is a New York State Historic Site, and as such falls under the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). The OPRHP shares partnership with the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) – a partnership shared by other historic sites in the Palisades Region of the park system, from the New Jersey border to Kingston, New York. Each historic site has a Friends Group that supplies additional funding, volunteers, and support; Stony Point’s Friends Group is called the Friends of the Stony Point Battlefield & Lighthouse.

What has Stony Point Battlefield accomplished to date?
Since Stony Point became publicly accessible land 120 years ago in 1898 (thanks to the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society), the site has evolved into a popular historic site. During the main season – April through October – the site hosts lectures, tours, programs, a celebration on the anniversary of the battle, and much more. The site is beautifully landscaped with plenty of lawns to picnic on (just take your trash with you!), extraordinary vistas of the Hudson River, and commanding views of the Stony Point Lighthouse, a visitor favorite. Staff are constantly researching and updating interpretation to reflect current historical research. As of 2016, the members of the staff have made headway into two major projects: a complete roster of the light infantry who stormed Stony Point and a complete review of lighthouse research (as well as updating museum panels with all the new information). Staff members have broadened access to the kayak launch and have expanded efforts for the safe removal of invasive species. To that end, a number of new lectures have been planned catering to more nature-minded visitors, and Stony Point continues to work closely with the local Audubon and Naturalist societies.

What can you tell us about the museum?
The stone museum was built in 1934. Having gone through two exhibit refurbishments in the 1970s and 2004, the museum still fascinates visitors. It is divided into two galleries: one for the Battle of Stony Point, and one for the nineteenth century lighthouse. The Battle Gallery hosts a number of artifacts – clay pipes, chevaux-de-frise remnants, musket balls, infantry camp axes, the sword of Colonel Brinkerhoff, and some of the artillery pieces Wayne’s men captured the night of the attack. A topographical model of the British defenses helps visitors see the battle as it unfolded – just ask a staff member!

Stony Point Lighthouse, the oldest on the Hudson River. (Author)

The Lighthouse Gallery has panels explaining the 99-year history of the lighthouse, including photographs of its keepers, residence buildings, gardens, and lens. Special mention goes out to Nancy Rose, who maintained the light longer than anyone – nearly fifty years! In the gallery is an original fourth-order Fresnel lens beautifully restored by our partners in the United States Coast Guard, just like the one that would have been housed in the lighthouse to safely guide mariners into the Hudson Highlands. During the main season, this gallery also transforms into a lecture hall.

What attracts visitors?
Stony Point is situated at the junction of the Hudson Highlands and the Hudson’s widest point, Haverstraw Bay. The view is unrivaled: spanning nearly eight miles from Peekskill Bay to Ossining, New York, visitors can watch everything from pleasure boats to ocean-going tankers to Pete Seeger’s Clearwater passing by in good weather. The lighthouse is the oldest on the Hudson, and lighthouse enthusiasts adore her. Toward the museum, the living history camp includes uniformed soldiers (British and American) and ladies in period clothing doing crafts – blacksmithing, cooking, sewing, defense building, firelock maintenance, etc. Musket and artillery demonstrations occur every weekend.

There is also a self-guided walking tour. This tour brings you from the fort’s outer works, around the southern crest of the point, up to the lighthouse, around the north end of the point and returns to the outer works, with illustrated interpretive signs along the way describing the defensive positions, batteries, and accounts of the British soldiers who manned them. On this path, visitors pass the spot where Wayne entered the fort, where Lieutenant colonel de Fleury struck the British colors, and where Colonel Febiger accepted the surrender of Lieutenant colonel Johnson, the Crown commander. Behind the museum, a spur of the path brings you out to the King’s Ferry overlook and through the area where Colonel Butler’s column entered the fort.

What are the site’s hours and how can I learn more?
During the main season (mid April – last weekend of October), grounds are open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with Sunday’s hours 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. The museum’s hours are 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, with the living history camp open on Saturdays, Sundays, and some Monday holidays. During the winter season (November – mid April), grounds are open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and the museum is closed. The site is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King Day. For more updated information, visit our website, https://parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/8/details.aspx; and check us out on Facebook at, www.facebook.com/StonyPointBattlefieldAndLighthouse/ .

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