NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you ride the Staten Island Ferry, you might have wondered about the lighthouse that stands in New York Bay — a piece of New York history that is not well-known.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, standing guard for over 100 years is Robbins Reef. It’s also called Kate’s Light after Kate Walker, who manned the station alone.READ MORE: Vice President Kamala Harris Promotes Biden's Infrastructure Plan In The Bronx
“She actually came out here in 1886 with her husband and she was his assistant. When he died, she took over. She lived and worked here with her children and her grandchildren for over 30 years,” said curator of the Noble Maritime Museum, Megan Beck.
A group from the Noble Maritime Collection that is working to restore the lighthouse took Baker out in the harbor and up to the top.
“A hidden place in the harbor that not many people know about,” said Jeff Wollman, a trustee with the Noble Maritime Collection.
Walker’s main responsibility was to keep the light going, and to do so she had to carry buckets of oil up to the top of the lighthouse.
She would use a row boat to reach Staten Island about a mile away.
“Probably everyday to run errands, get mail,” said Beck. “But in terms of coal and those types of supplies, they were dropped off by the government one day a year.”READ MORE: NYPD: Suspect Grabbed 11-Year-Old Girl's Hair, Tried To Choke Her At Stuyvesant Square Park
Walker, who was 4’8″ and weighed less than 100 pounds, rescued at least 50 people from the waters near the lighthouse, weathered numerous storms, and reported ship accidents.
“Indomitable, strong; she had this responsibility, she got used to it,” said Erin Urban, executive director of the Noble Maritime Collection. “Yes the work was hard, but not unusual for a strong woman to do.”
Thanks to the descendants of Walker still living on Staten Island, her photographs, records, and some furniture have been saved, portraying a family oriented reef.
So why the intrigue?
“People just love lighthouses. They’re romantic and important,” said Urban.
“I get a thrill out of it. And do as much as we can out here to improve the lighthouse and, again, make it more so it will star around here for another 100 years,” Wollman said.
The group is hoping for more volunteers as they work to revitalize the structure as well as the spirit of Walker.MORE NEWS: National Pizza Month: More Chefs, Restaurants Pivoting To Pizza Due To The Pandemic
The project was set back after Superstorm Sandy, and still needs about $3 million to be completed. The restored lighthouse would be used as an educational tour center and may be available for party rentals.