Gardiners Point Island

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Gardiners Point Island
Location Block Island Sound
Coordinates 41°08′29″N 72°08′46″W / 41.141368°N 72.146187°W / 41.141368; -72.146187Coordinates: 41°08′29″N 72°08′46″W / 41.141368°N 72.146187°W / 41.141368; -72.146187

Gardiners Point Island is an island in Block Island Sound, New York, that was the former location of the Gardiner Island Lighthouse as well as Fort Tyler.

For many years the island was connected via a shoal to Gardiners Island and as such it is under the jurisdiction of East Hampton. In 1851 the federal government purchased 14 acres (5.7 ha) on the peninsula from the Gardiners for $400[1] with the Gardiners Point Light first being lit in 1855 after a construction expenditure of $7,000.

A March 1888 Nor'easter caused a break in the peninsula permanently turning the point into an island. Between 1890 and 1893 the island was shrinking at the rate of 1023 feet per year.

During the Spanish–American War the War Department recommended and Congress appropriated $500,000 to build Fort Tyler on the island as part of the Harbor Defenses of Long Island Sound. A temporary battery was constructed as an interim measure at a cost of $77,100. This battery consisted of emplacements for two 8-inch M1888 guns on converted carriages for 1870s-era Rodman guns. It was one of a number of batteries built shortly after the outbreak of the war, as it was feared the Spanish fleet would bombard the US east coast. The "Report of the Commission on the Conduct of the War with Spain" states the platforms were ready, but does not state that the guns were mounted.[2] There are two stories as to who the permanent fort was named for. One source states it was named for Daniel Tyler, a general and Civil War veteran who died in 1882, in General Order 194 of 27 December 1904.[3] Another story is that it was named for former President John Tyler (1841-1845) who married Julia Gardiner Tyler, born on Gardiners Island. The permanent fort consisted of Battery Edmund Smith, with emplacements for two 8-inch M1888 disappearing guns and two 5-inch M1900 guns on pedestal mounts.[4][5] Records indicate that it was never armed.[3] The fort was unusual in that it seems to have arisen entirely out of wartime fears. Most forts of its era were started based on recommendations of the 1885 Board of Fortifications and were already under construction (though years from completion) when war broke out. Thus, in most cases the temporary batteries were to quickly provide some armament for pre-existing forts.

The shifting sands caused continuing problems for the fort, and it was abandoned in 1924 and transferred to the state as part of a post-World War I drawdown of coast defenses.

In 1938 the island was declared a National Bird Refuge by Franklin Roosevelt and transferred to the Agriculture Department.[6]

During World War II the fort was used for bombing practice and this, combined with erosion, reduced it to its present state where it is popularly called "The Ruins."

The state of New York briefly considered turning it into a park but it is deemed a navigational hazard because of the possibilities of unexploded ordnance. It is now part of the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

See also[edit]


  • Berhow, Mark A., Ed. (2015). American Seacoast Defenses, A Reference Guide, Third Edition. McLean, Virginia: CDSG Press. ISBN 978-0-9748167-3-9. 
  • Lewis, Emanuel Raymond (1979). Seacoast Fortifications of the United States. Annapolis: Leeward Publications. ISBN 978-0-929521-11-4. 

Further reading[edit]

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