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If you pass through Western Long Island Sound, this famous lighthouse is
no stranger to you. Located near Sands Point off the north shore, the bright
flash of Execution Lighthouse is visible for miles. Except for the congestion of
recreational craft during the summer months, most mariners working the
route regard the sixty foot tower with its 10 second flash affectionately.
Legend has it that the unsettled spirits of the executed prisoners have never
left the rocks and can scare the living daylights out of anyone venturing
ashore at night. Myth or fact? No one we know is interested in camping out
with a sleeping bag to put the legend to a test.
We don’t know how true this is, but some historians (self-proclaimed ones
included) say that the location was once home to executions in the years
before the Revolutionary War. Advocates of the light’s grizzly past say that in
the 1700’s, British military forces didn’t want to execute troublesome
insurgent colonialists in open view of the public. Execution Rocks (the
lighthouse didn’t come until 1849) provided a suitable venue for shackling
such rebels to the rocks at low tide and letting the incoming tide carry out the
death sentence, hence the word, “execution”. However, opponents of this
theory dismiss it and argue that the name arose from far less ominous
circumstances… merely the treacherous nature of the rocks and the threat
they posed to passing vessels.