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Fire Island, its shores and elevations constantly shifting, represents a kind of equilibrium among mighty natural forces. In 1653, Isaac Stratford of Babylon set up a shore whaling station on the Island (the name, Whalehouse Point, still persists). Stratford's crews would carry their whaleboats across the Island to the ocean side, build crude shelters and erect a look-out from which a man could watch for the spouting of a whale. "Whale Off!" he would cry when the great beast was sighted, and the boats would be launched into the rough surf.

In 1825 the Federal government constructed a lighthouse at the extreme western tip of Fire Island. As late as 1856, a boatman sailing through the Inlet could toss a newspaper to the lighthousekeeper. Less than 100 years later, four miles of sand had accumulated between the lighthouse and the western end of the Island.


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