Local History

Information, News, and features from Montauk Library’s local history collection.

Throwback Thursday – Seal Serenity

“I have witnessed what must have been the ultimate in seal serenity,” Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr. wrote in the January 1978 issue of Long Island Forum. On one especially frigid morning in Montauk in the winter of 1977, he said, ice that had formed on the shore broke off in floating chunks. “It was on one… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Hither Woods: Wilderness, Wildlife, Water

The first campaign to preserve Hither Woods dates back to the early 1980s when environmental groups and concerned citizens united to save the land from private developers. Hither Woods consists of 1,357 acres of undisturbed oak and hickory forest, crossed with laurel-lined trails, and over 2 miles of coastline along the Block Island Sound. In… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Friend-ship

Richard B. Webb, an architect, designed the original Montauk Community Church and was a founding member when it opened in 1929. So it was fitting that almost 40 years later, when a new wing was added for offices and Sunday school classrooms, Richard Webb was the architect once again. He had moved to Montauk in… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Dry January

Prohibition went into effect on January 17, 1920, creating a golden but dangerous opportunity for Montauk residents who wanted to earn extra money. Fishermen and others often moonlighted as bootleggers, taking small powerboats out to meet large international ships where U.S. territorial waters ended at “Rum Row.” They would pick up liquor and run it… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – That Perambulating Windmill

In January of 1942, the Army took over 468 acres next to the Montauk Lighthouse to create a coastal defense station — what today we call Camp Hero. Remote yet strategically vulnerable, almost all of Montauk would come to be occupied by the U.S. military during World War II.  “You had the Coast Guard up… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Horse Rescue

Herb Herbert donated this photograph of the Montauk Fire Department rescuing a horse trapped in the ice near Deep Hollow Ranch.  Fireman Tom Grenci reports that the rescue was successful, and that the horse survived after walking out onto the frozen surface of the lake and falling in. Most Montaukers are pet-passionate and care deeply… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Wintertime in Montauk

Nothing like a hearty breakfast before harvesting ice on a winter’s day. Eugene Beckwith Sr. recalled that the bosses fed the men quite generously before they set off to work in the 1930s. “Oh, gosh, they had pancakes and sausage and pork chops,” he recalled in a 1969 oral history interview. “I eat one pork… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Holiday Fishes

Santa looks like such a contented fellow. The red and green color scheme, the Dalmatian pup, the fishing lures placed inexplicably on top of a drum. Fred Guardineer, the illustrator, lived in Babylon and wrote a “Fish & Game” column for The Babylon Beacon. So what does he have to do with Montauk? Fishing lines… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – All Aboard!

The first passenger train to run to Montauk left Long Island City at 8:30 a.m. on December 17, 1895. There were about 50 “excursionists” that day, and 30 of them boarded in East Hampton with lunch baskets in their hands. “The train consisted of one private dining room car, a parlor car, mail and baggage… Read more »