It's hard to believe that a place so serene, remote, and surrounded by the ocean is only 120 miles from New York City, but that's exactly what Montauk is. Known as 'The End' by locals, it's the one place on Long Island where you can see three states in the same place, watch sea life such as seals (and the occasional Great White!) from the cliffs, and people-watch as many take to the waves to surf in one of the greatest places in the country for it. It's even harder to believe that this seemingly modern and extraordinarily maintained lighthouse actually has a history that precedes it by nearly 400 years.


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For those who haven't yet been to Montauk, it's worth noting that this small town has a big reputation and while it's surrounded by the Hamptons, it feels nothing of the same atmosphere. At The End, things are quiet, fishing reigns supreme, and hiking or beach-going is the norm from day to day even during the winter months. Here are some other incredible things newcomers might not know about Montauk and the oldest lighthouse in New York State.

Montauk Was Named For The Tribe Who Called It Home

While we know it as Montauk today, the land was actually occupied first by the Montaukett tribe, which is where the modern-day name of the town comes from.

The first settlers to the area arrived in 1648, and it took nearly two decades before the land known as Montauk could be purchased. Originally, the Montaukett tribe agreed to sell a portion of the land to settlers from East Hampton, and thus it was owned as a joint trust for the next two centuries.

The Ocean Views Are Unparalleled At The Top

The Montauk Lighthouse is known for having a presence on the East Coast as a literal beacon, as it's still fully operational and emits a flashing light every five seconds that can be seen for 19 nautical miles. However, for those who have the chance to hike up all 137 of its iron steps, the view from over 100 feet above the cliffside is incredible.

On a clear day with no inclement weather, it's possible to see three states - Rhode Island, Connecticut, and, of course, New York. It's from this height that visitors can look out over the ocean and watch fishermen, surfers, and even marine life if they happen to go at the right time of the year.

A Hurricane Once Separated Montauk From The Rest Of The U.S.

When driving out to Montauk, it's easy to believe how this could have happened. With such an isolated place, there are many roads that lead in and out of Montauk (one, in fact) and it's a two-lane road that's surrounded by trees and dunes on both sides.

During Hurricane Carol, which hit New England in 1954, the road and surrounding land to Montauk was completely flooded, and with Montauk Highway effectively underwater, the town temporarily became its own island.

One Of Its Buildings Is 200 Years Old, And It's Not The Lighthouse

While the lighthouse itself was built under the order of George Washington, it's not the oldest structure in Montauk since the lighthouse was built until 1796. The oldest structure is actually called the Second House and was used as a home for the shepherd who watched over the livestock that lived on the pasture in the area.

The original house was burnt down in a fire but another was built in its place in 1797, making it only one year younger than the lighthouse, even though the foundation of the building is older.

It's A Haven For Fishermen And Surfers

According to Housely, Montauk is also known as the 'surf fishing capital of the world' since there are so many enormous fish that are caught on its coast. The fishing here is so good, in fact, that fishermen will take to the ocean in what's technically considered to be the off-season just to get in on the action. It's also known as the largest fishing fleet in the entire state which is saying quite a lot, considering how small Long Island is.

For those who appreciate the ocean without a boat, surfers have also been known to add Montauk to their goal list, as its waters off prime conditions. Technically, it's number eight on the list of the best places in the U.S., and it's especially lucrative considering it's one of few places along the East Coast with such great waves and varying swells.

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