The Hudson River Maritime Museum interprets the Rondout Lighthouse located at the mouth of the Rondout Creek on the Hudson River, one mile from the museum. The lighthouse is owned by the City of Kingston. The museum has supplied furnishings and provides docents to conduct tours of the lighthouse. This popular attraction is still a working aid to navigation on the Hudson and has an interesting history as the third lighthouse on the Hudson at the entrance to the Rondout Creek. The lighthouse is accessible only by boat and for guided tours.
The first lighthouse at the entrance to the Rondout Creek was a wooden one built in 1837. Little record remains of this 1837 lighthouse. The second lighthouse, made of sturdier bluestone, was built in 1867.
Mrs. Catherine Murdock was keeper of the first and second lighthouses after her husband drowned in 1856, only a year after becoming keeper of the wooden lighthouse. Her son James Murdock, who acted as assistant keeper, became keeper in 1907 upon his mother’s retirement after 50 years of service. In 1913 construction began on a new lighthouse (the current structure) as a new jetty built in the 1890s at the mouth of Rondout Creek meant that the 1867 bluestone lighthouse was set too far back to be an adequate navigation aid. The James Murdock family moved into the new lighthouse in the spring of 1915.
The 1867 bluestone lighthouse was abandoned after 1915 and torn down in the 1950s. Only its circular stone foundation remains today.
Families lived in the present 1915 lighthouse until 1945. The Coast Guard then manned the lighthouse until 1954 when the light was automated and the building closed.
In 1984 the Hudson River Maritime Museum leased the lighthouse and began restoring the building and taking people out to see it. Many groups of school children and adult visitors have toured the lighthouse and enjoyed stories of its history as well as the fine view from the light tower ever since.