Long Beach Bar "Bug" Light
East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation stewards maritime heritage for Long Island's East End. Founded in 1990, the Foundation’s very successful first project was the restoration of the Long Beach Bar "Bug" Light. For over a century, Bug Light helped mariners navigate around the hazardous sandbar located between Orient Harbor and Gardiner’s Bay, its bright beacon welcoming them to the protected waters of Peconic Bay.
Now maintained by both the Foundation and the United States Coast Guard, Bug Light is a shining symbol of our efforts to preserve the East End’s maritime heritage.
The much-photographed Victorian structure is a near replica of the original Bug Light built in 1870. The original structure was on screw piles, open underneath which lead to its colloquial name of “Bug Light” because at high tide it looked like a giant water bug. The first keepers of the light did not stay long as they reported that the winter ice against the screw piles shook the lighthouse so badly that they occasionally abandoned the structure fearing for their lives. A concrete foundation was added in 1926 which still forms part of the lighthouse structure. This foundation made possible the installation of cisterns and a central coal-fired steam heating system as well as a badly needed protected storage area.
The original structure was destroyed by arsonists on the night of July 4, 1963. In 1989-1990 hundreds of local people gave not only financial support, but also material, equipment and work to rebuild Bug Light. With innovative planning and construction scheduled, the replacement lighthouse was built on land in the Greenport Yacht and Shipbuilding and launched down the yard’s railway like a ship to the tune of a Navy band and a 40 millimeter 21 gun salute. The whole reconstruction project took only 60 days, mark it as one of the most unique lighthouse restoration projects in the world.
The relighting ceremony for its 10 inch, solar powered light, 63 feet above the water, occurred during a special fireworks ceremony on the evening of September 5, 1990.
During Hurricane Sandy in 2013, Bug Light sustained heavy damages. Parts of the concrete foundation washed away as well as the stairs to the first floor. The door was ripped off and the pier took a battering. Many of the repairs have been made, but there is still more work to be done.