Montauk at Sea

A New York visitor in 1892 told of sitting around the great open fireplace at Third House, before a blazing driftwood fire. In the woodbox lay the carved and ornamented post from a ship’s cabin. Every year, Samuel Stratton (who was then keeper there) told the guest, about 2,000 loads of wood washed ashore from wrecks, furnishing Montauk people with all the fuel they needed.

Hardly a winter passed, in sailing-ship days, without a wreck at Montauk. The two Montauk Life Saving Stations (afterward to become the United States Coast Guard) established in the 1870’s at Hither Plain and Ditch Plain, were manned only in winter. Local farmers and fishermen could tend their crops or flocks or nets in warm weather, and double as life-savers during the cold, stormy months.

In 1876, George A. Osborn, keeper at different times of both First and Second Houses, was also keeper of Hither Plain Station. Samuel T. Stratton of Third House had charge at Ditch Plain.

Courtland Mulford of East Hampton has a ship’s figurehead which his grandfather, George A. Osborn, must have picked up on the shore.