A lens manufactured in France in 1902 is shining high atop Montauk Point Lighthouse once again.
Earlier this month the U.S. Coast Guard relit the clamshell-shaped Fresnel lens, which guided mariners along the eastern tip of Long Island from 1903 to 1987, as part of a pilot program in partnership with Montauk Historical Society.
Commissioned by President George Washington in 1792, the lighthouse became a National Historic Landmark in 2012.
The lens was displayed in the lighthouse’s museum for 36 years after the Coast Guard replaced it with a lower-maintenance light source, according to the historical society, which owns and maintains the lighthouse.
“People always wanted it back,” said Mia Certic, the society’s executive director, who noted that the Fresnel lens provides brighter light that is visible nearly 20 miles away.
The Fresnel lenses are known as “the invention that saved a million ships,” according to the historical society.
Certic said in the years since the lens was removed, historical society officials tried to have it reinstalled — but with no success. The Coast Guard said it would be like moving backward, Certic recalled.
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