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Montauk Quick Facts


  • 1648  Families from New England settle East Hampton.
  • 1658  Montaukett sachem Wyandanch gives settlers rights to pasturage.
  • 1660-1925  Major period of Montauk’s pasturage.
  • 1687  East Hampton Proprietors complete the acquisition of the Montauk peninsula with the purchase of the last of three parcels of land from the Montaukett Indians.
  • 1699  Captain William Kidd, declared a pirate by the British government, buries a large amount of treasure on Gardiner’s Island. Does he also bury treasure at Montauk’s Money Pond?
  • 1741  Official census lists 162 Montaukett Indians in 34 families.
  • 1744  Locals build First House on Montauk for keepers of pastured animals; it burns down in 1909.
  • 1746  Second House is built. After burning down, it is rebuilt in 1797.
  • 1747  Proprietors build Third House in Indian Field, the site of the oldest cattle ranch in the U.S., later known as Deep Hollow Ranch. Third House later burns down and is rebuilt in 1806.
  • 1749  A Mohegan from Connecticut, Samson Occum, opens school for Montaukett children; in 1751 he marries Mary Fowler, a Montaukett.
  • 1776  A British fleet appears off Montauk; they are scared off by the “Turncoat Incident” at Shepherd’s Neck.
  • 1781  During an intense storm the British man-of-war Culloden runs aground near Fort Pond Bay and burns to the waterline; all 650 crew survive.
  • 1792  President Washington approves the building of the Montauk lighthouse.
  • 1796  Workers complete construction of the Montauk Lighthouse, but delivery of whale oil for the lamps is held up.
  • 1797  Montauk Lighthouse is lighted and open for business.
  • 1839  American brig “Washington” takes into custody the slave ship “Amistad” off Culloden Point.
  • 1852    A deed of conveyance is entered by the East Hampton Trustees as per an 1851 State Supreme Court order to the Proprietors of Montauk. [Suffolk County, Liber 63 of Deeds (p. 171 ff)]
  • 1852    State legislature incorporates the Proprietors of Montauk, establishing the Montauk Trustee Corporation. [Laws of N.Y.S., Chapter 139]
  • 1858  On January 1, the Montauk light changes from a fixed beam to a flashing beam, and the new Shinnecock lighthouse begins operation with a fixed light.
  • 1858  In February, the full-rigged cargo ship John Milton smashes into southern coastal rocks five miles west of Montauk Point; all 33 crew members die.
  • 1860  Census shows East Hampton Town has 2,267 people.
  • 1879  Stephen Talkhouse Pharaoh dies.
  • 1879  Arthur Benson of Brooklyn buys at auction 10,000 acres of Montauk for $151,000; he builds the Association Houses, designed by Stanford White.
  • 1894 Bill introduced to Congress for the creation of a deep water port at Montauk
  • 1895  Benson heirs sell 4,000 acres of Montauk to Long Island Rail Road president Austin Corbin and Charles Pratt for $200,000.
  • 1895  LIRR reaches Montauk on December 17.
  • 1896 Austin Corbin tries to establish a transatlantic port at Montauk
  • 1896 Montauk’s first steel pier, 400 feet long for steamers is completed.
  • 1896 Montauk Inn built
  • 1896-1899 School is held at Second House.
  • 1898  Spanish-American War.
  • 1898  Camp Wikoff built on Montauk land rented from the LIRR as a site for 30,000 recuperating American veterans of the war.
  • 1899  First schoolhouse opens in Hither Plains Village.
  • 1899 Montauk Inn is built. Burns down in 1926. Manor built on the site
  • 1900  Government adds reddish-brown daymark to the lighthouse tower.
  • 1900  Census shows 3,746 people in East Hampton Town.1902-3 Marconi Wireless Station is built at the Lighthouse, is torn down in 1908
  • 1910  Judge in Riverhead declares Montauketts extinct.
  • 1912 Bill re-introduced to Congress for the creation of a deep water port at Montauk.
  • 1914 Miss Benson builds a little church known as the Silver Dolphin on land leased by Captain E. B. Tuthill.
  • 1915  Town builds cinder road across Napeague, which becomes paved eight years later. LIRR lays a cinder track parallel to its own roadbed south of the old sand track.
  • 1915  Telephone service begins at Montauk with two- and three-party lines.
  • 1917  U.S. Naval Air Station commissioned at Montauk with four R-6 seaplanes. A year later, two dirigibles are added, patrolling an area from Fire Island Light to Nantucket Shoal.
  • 1919  Navy C-5 dirigible leaves Montauk for Newfoundland on May 14 in a failed attempt to be the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic. Who made the first successful flight?
  • 1919 Second School is built below Montauk Inn
  • 1920-1933  During the Prohibition years, rumrunners are active off the Montauk coastline.
  • 1923 Paved highway to Montauk built
  • 1924  The Long Island State Park Commission, headed by Robert Moses, seizes by eminent domain 1,842 acres of Carl Fisher’s land, creating the 1,775-acres Hither Hills State Park and the 945-acre Montauk Point State Park.
  • 1925  Montauk reaches franchise agreement with East Hampton Electric Lighting Company.
  • 1925  East Hampton Town establishes new election district for Montauk.
  • 1925 The Last cattle drive on Montauk until 1936.
  • 1926  Carl Fisher buys 9,000 acres in Montauk for $2.5 million, with a plan to make Montauk the “Miami Beach of the North.”
  • 1926 Montauk Inn burns down, Manor built on same location
  • 1926  Warren and Maude Gurney build Gurney’s Inn.
  • 1928  Carl Fisher cuts a permanent inlet from formerly freshwater Lake Montauk to Block Island Sound,  creating the finest yachting harbor on the East End.
  • 1928 Causeway built to Star Island from land dredged from the lake.
  • 1928 Carl Fisher donates land to the Montauk Community Church. First service is held March 31, 1929.
  • 1928 New School opens in Upper Shepherd’s Neck
  • 1929 Harbor Master’s house is built (where Gosman’s Dock is today)
  • 1929  Officials open Montauk Point State Park.
  • 1929  Stock market crash ends Fisher’s dream.
  • 1930  April census counts 608 year-round Montauk residents.
  • 1930 Montauk chamber of Commerce is formed.
  • 1930 Carl Fisher donates land to the Catholic Church. The first service is held in the basement.
  • 1931-1932  Lake Montauk hosts Gold Cup motorboat races.
  • 1931  U.S. Navy uses Fort Pond Bay as a base and performs maneuvers in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1933  First LIRR Fishermen's Special trip from New York and Brooklyn to Montauk. Passengers walked from station to boats at Union News Dock, which later became Fishangri-La, and is now the site of Rough Riders Landing.
  • 1936  Phineas Dickinson leases Indian Field from the Montauk Development Co. and revives cattle grazing on Montauk, charging $6 per head. Business lasts five years.
  • 1938    Hurricane with winds well over 100 m.p.h. hits the East End and devastates many fishing village homes. Montauk, at this time primarily pastureland, temporarily becomes an island.
  • 1939  On March 16, the Montauk Fire Department begins operation.
  • 1939  ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) hosts a grand prix race around the Montauk Downs golf course.
  • 1939-1945  World War Two; America enters in 1941.
  • 1940  New York Daily Mirror advertises free ride to Montauk to push sales of $100 lots in Hither Hills. Mirror Development
  • 1942-1945  U.S. Army and Navy virtually take over Montauk. Military opens Camp Hero, with two 16-inch gun emplacements, as part of the coastwide defense system known as the Eastern Shield.
  • 1942  On June 13, four German spies land on Amagansett beach from a German U-Boat. They are eventually caught.
  • 1943    U.S. Navy builds docks, seaplane hangar and barracks at Fort Pond Bay for new torpedo testing range, displacing all the residents of the fishing village.
  • 1946  U.S. Army Air Force establishes air base at Montauk as part of the early warning system; it closes in 1982.
  • 1947  GA-2 prototype seaplane lands at Montauk on a field test flight.
  • 1950 Fishangri-la opens in the former Gobel Aircraft building at Fort Pond Bay
  • 1950 Radar surveillance operations begin at Camp Hero.
  • 1950  Atlantic Tuna Tournament held at Montauk.
  • 1950  Census counts 6,325 in East Hampton Town.
  • 1950  Mary Gosman opens chowder stand on the harbor; today it is Gosman’s Dock.
  • 1950  Sam Cox opens Montauk’s first motel, The Maisonettes, now the Ocean End Apartments on South Emery Street.
  • 1950s  Developments called Soundview and Oceanside-at-Montauk introduce moderately-priced vacation homes.
  • 1951  Fishing excursion boat Pelican, with 64 passengers, capsizes off Montauk; 45 die.
  • 1951  Montauk Boatmen's Association formed. A year later they affiliate with the National Party Boat Owners' Alliance in response to the Pelican disaster, seeking to improve boat safety through legislation.
  • 1952  Montauk Emergency Relief Squad created. Chevrolet dealer Russ MacGrotty donates ambulance.
  • 1953  Montauk Chamber of Commerce incorporates November 6.
  • 1954  Hurricane Carol hits Montauk, causing it to temporarily become an island.
  • 1954  Davis Brothers Engineering Corp load Coast Guard station onto a barge; Carl Darenburg Sr. tows it from Napeague to Star Island.
  • 1955    Montauk Marine Basin opens.
  • 1957  Air Force reactivates Camp Hero, setting up a radar and air defense system.
  • 1960 Camp Hero puts an AN-FPS/35 radar tower in place.
  • 1960  Census counts 8,827 in East Hampton Town.
  • 1962  Newly formed Montauk Historical Society chooses Richard T. Gilmartin as first president.
  • 1963  Developer All-State Properties builds Leisurama, 250 houses in four areas of Montauk.
  • 1963  Montauk hosts first St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • 1966  Montauk says goodbye to switchboard operators, hello to direct dialing.
  • 1968  East Hampton Town purchases Second House, to be maintained by the Montauk Historical Society.
  • 1969 Carl Fisher’s Surf Club is razed.
  • 1970  Census counts 10,980 in East Hampton Town.
  • 1970 CCOM (Concerned Citizens of Montauk) is formed.
  • 1978  Montauk Downs golf course becomes Montauk Downs State Park.
  • 1979  Formation of the Montauk Boatman’s and Captain’s Association.
  • 1980  Montauk Library opens.
  • 1980  Census counts 14,029 in East Hampton Town, 2,828 in Montauk.
  • 1981  Government decommissions Camp Hero.
  • 1984  U.S. government turns Camp Hero over to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, creating Camp Hero State Park.
  • 1984  Montauk Tower turned into 21-unit luxury condominiums.
  • 1986  New York State, Suffolk County and the Town of East Hampton jointly purchase 560 acres of Hither Woods.
  • 1987  Suffolk County purchases 777 acres known as Sunbeach.
  • 1987  Montauk Lighthouse opens as a museum run by the Montauk Historical Society.
  • 1989 Brokered by The Nature Conservancy, Suffolk County buys property now known as the Lee Koppelman Nature Preserve, the first major acquisition under the Groundwater Protection Program.
  • 1990  Census counts 16,132 in East Hampton Town, 3,001 in Montauk.
  • 1993 Montauk Downtown Association is formed
  • 1995  New York State, Suffolk County and East Hampton Town jointly purchase 192 acres at Culloden Point.
  • 1997  New York State, with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy, purchases for preservation 339 environmentally sensitive acres known as The Sanctuary, adjacent to Camp Hero and Montauk Point State Park.
  • 2000  Census counts 19,719 in East Hampton Town, 3,851 in Montauk.
  • 2000  Suffolk County purchases 213-acre parcel near Lake Montauk known as the Laurel Canyon Property as part of the Greenways Open Space Preservation Program.
  • 2000  The 98-acre property known as Shadmoor is purchased through cooperative efforts of N.Y. State, Suffolk County, East Hampton Town and The Nature Conservancy and becomes Shadmoor State Park.