Wednesday, May 1, 2024

On the First Day of May

May is Historic Preservation Month, and early on this first day of May, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced its list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2024

On the list this year is a historic place near and dear to us here in Hudson: the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. 
Here's what the announcement had to say about our lighthouse:
Opened in 1874, the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse used to be one of several "middle-of-the-river" lighthouses on the Hudson River. Now it's one of only two left standing. The lighthouse was built to guide vessels around a shallow area in the river near Athens and Hudson, New York, and continues to serve as a navigation aid today, helping commercial and leisure mariners safely navigate this portion of the Hudson River. It is also open to the public as a museum, welcoming visitors and schoolchildren to learn about the lightkeepers and their families who lived in the building up until the 1940s.
However, the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse may not stand for much longer. Erosion caused by ever larger and deeper commercial ships traveling the Hudson River, as well as ice floes, tides, and currents, has significantly damaged the 200 underwater wood pilings that support the lighthouse, and engineering reports indicate the building is at risk of collapse within three years if no action is taken. Preservation challenges only compound as roof leaks cause plaster damage, shifting causes facade cracks, metal gutters and railings rust, and timbers supporting the fog bell are weakened by rot. An estimated $7.5 million in funding is needed to stabilize the pilings and address preservation needs.
Since 1982, the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society has worked to preserve the lighthouse and operate its museum. They have begun a campaign to raise funding to restore the lighthouse and install an underwater steel curtain which would keep it from collapsing into the river. Significant additional funding and partnerships will be needed to protect this iconic beacon on one of America's great rivers.
Photo: David Oliver
This recognition is a huge achievement for the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. Being named one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in its 150th anniversary year brings national attention to our beloved lighthouse and the challenges that threaten its survival.


  1. Isn't it just a matter of time before one of those huge ships or a loose barge from Colarusso's dock slams into the lighthouse and obliterates it? It would be sad, but not too surprising. Nobody ever thought the Key Bridge in Baltimore could come down in seconds thanks to one ship. If they had, the bridge would have been better protected.

  2. Bill, ships have been navigating the river since way before our time. It was built in 1873 and has never been bothered by the shipping industry once. The wooden pilings it sits on would most likely be the culprit of any forseen damage to the structure. Nice try though.

    1. Actually, Lew, if you'd pay attention, you might know that the enormous and deep propellers moving the cargo ships and the tugs for barges are what is causing the instability of the lighthouse. Ships and propellers of the size we have now were not around 150 years ago and the lighthouse was not built to withstanding their onslaught it has been sustaining more recently. I suggest that you inform yourself by going online to WAMC to listen to yesterday's informative piece on the lighthouse. You will change your mind that the Hudson Athens Lighthouse "has never been bothered by the shipping industry once." Actually, according to the professionals, the damage to the foundation of the lighthouse that is going to require so much money to resolve IS A RESULT, in whole or in part, of the shipping industry.
      Sorry, Lew, nice try though.
      Also, the shipping industry never once bothered or brought down the Key Bridge. Until it did last month, in seconds. History shouldn't be looked at as a reflection of the future. Ever. Stuff happens. Accidents happen. The airline industry never bothered the Twin Towers in Manhattan. Until the airline industry did, even if it was intentional.