It’s been almost 135 years since the Lewis A. King ran aground in a storm near Montauk Point. She was a two-masted schooner from Maine traveling from Boston to New York. The Lewis A. King could carry 142 tons and on December 18, 1887, was loaded with pipe clay and 300-pound sacks of dates.
The Montauk Lighthouse had been in place for almost a century by this time, but the ship’s captain lost his way and mistook it for one at Watch Hill in Rhode Island. Before long the Lewis A. King had beached about a mile southwest of the Montauk Light (not far from where the former owner of this photo, Richard T. Gilmartin, later loved to surfcast). The lighthouse keeper didn’t notice the ship, which came ashore too far east for Life-Saving Station patrols to spot her, either.
Nevertheless, the seven people on board, including the captain and his sister, made it safely off the ship on their own. “Nobody was alarmed about the vessel; she was new and in good condition,” said Jeannette Edwards Rattray in her book Ship Ashore!
The East Hampton Star reported at the time that prospects looked good for freeing the vessel. “It is thought the schooner can be got off without much work if the tug arrives before the weather becomes bad as she is still in good condition and resting easily,” the newspaper said.
A wrecking company showed up from New London, Connecticut, but wanted more than the captain was willing to pay and he sent them packing. More than a year later the Star reported that the schooner was still resting. Then, almost two years later, in November 1890, “she was reported to have broken up,” Mrs. Rattray wrote.
Hundreds of pounds of dates had been salvaged, however, “and date pudding was a favorite dessert in eastern Long Island for many months.”
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