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Galloo Island Lifeboat Station (1937 Station and Boathouse) Hounsfield, NY

 

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Land at Gil Harbor along the northeast shore of Galloo Island was acquired for this station in 1934. The Chatham-type station house and three-bay boathouse were constructed in 1936 – 37 and operations began in 1937. Prior to this operations in the area were conducted by the Big Sandy Life-Saving Station (1876) on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. Discussions regarding moving the station to Galloo Island had been ongoing as early as 1921. The Galloo Island station was in service until 1973 when operations were transferred to stations in Oswego and Alexandria Bay. The station house, boathouse, flag tower and some outbuildings remain, and are owned by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC). The station originally had two off-site lookouts, and may have used the lighthouse as well for this purpose. It is unknown if these lookouts remain. The station also has one of the few surviving marine railways, although it’s in very poor condition.

Galloo Island lies near the eastern shore of Lake Ontario and is approximately 2250 acres in size. Most of the island is privately owned by a single landowner. Three parcels are owned by the NYDEC: on one of these parcels lies the former Coast Guard Station and on another the Galloo Island Lighthouse fog signal building (the lighthouse itself is on another privately owned parcel). The lighthouse, which is located on the southwest end of the island, was originally built in 1820. The current light, which dates from 1867, is maintained by the Coast Guard, although they no longer own any property or structures on the island.

Even though the former lifeboat station sits on publicly owned property (NYDEC) and easements exist, the island property owners strongly discourage use of the easement. No dockage exists at the station site, making direct access difficult.

The parcels owned by the NYDEC are part of the Lake Ontario Islands Wildlife Management Area and includes nearby Little Galloo Island and Gull Island. They are managed as a fish and bird refuge. The NYDEC has no interest in using or maintaining the old station buildings and plans to allow continual deterioration to take place. Saving the structures would likely entail moving them from the site. It is unknown if the NYDEC would allow a lease arrangement to a preservation group.