Napeague: Deliver Me to the Promised Land!

"Visit Beautiful Napeague!"

“Visit Beautiful Napeague!”

Somewhere between the fancy landscape of Amagansett, and the maritime charm of Montauk lies the tiny hamlet of Napeague.  Made up mostly of hilly roads, swaying cattails, thick marshes, shady woods, glistening waters, and sandy dunes, Napeague is almost too idyllic to be true.  It’s as picturesque as you could possibly imagine, and it is something of a hidden gem in the eastern most part of Long Island, NY.

"Next stop, Napeague!"

“Next stop, Napeague!”

As the crow flies over the lengthy Montauk LIRR branch, you’ll find Napeague midway between Amagansett and Montauk.  In fact, you’ll be able to catch the train passing underneath a rather narrow bridge, and passing along a busy dune-laden road near the Atlantic Ocean.  This tiny town, if you wanna call it a town, is home to a few hundred beach homes, some of which are the nicest in all of the Hamptons.  Half of which can be found along the Atlantic coastline, while the other half can be found just off the beaten path behind the towering sand dunes and forests.  The area is also known as Promised Land.

Napeague may be small, but it is home to some iconic landmarks known throughout Long Island.  There’s the Mackay Radio Tower, a 300 ft. transmitter radio tower that dates back to 1927.  There used to be a second tower that also served for transmitting SOS signals, especially during World War II.  The tower was decommissioned in 1984 and now is a part of Napeague State Park.  The tower does serve one purpose: it is used to relay police signals and flash warning lights across long distances.

Mackay Radio Tower

Mackay Radio Tower

Then there’s the Art Barge, also known as the Victor D’Amico Institute of Art.  Victor D’Amico was the Director of Education for the Museum of Modern Art from 1937 until 1970.  In 1955 the Department had begun art classes at Ashawagh Hall in Springs, New York.  D’Amico, looking for a permanent home, docked a barge at its current location just northeast of the Mackay Towers.  The barge’s base comes from an actual World War I hull that was towed all the way from Jersey City, across the Long Island Sound, all the way to Napeague.  The barge now operates June through September.

Victor D'Amico Institue of Art aka The Art Barge

Victor D’Amico Institue of Art aka The Art Barge

Lastly, there’s the old large shed of the Smith Meal Fish Factory in Promised Land, which produced menhaden fish for fish meal.  It produced 20–30 million fish a year and had its own Long Island Rail Road siding, which can be seen in the railroad track remants.  After a drop in the supply of menhaden, Smith closed the plant in 1969.  Today, Smith meal plant is a private marine finfish hatchery, Multi Aquaculture Systems, and a small restaurant, the Sea Slug.  The fishmeal plant even gave the area the name “Promised Land”.  Whenever anyone got close to the factory, they could smell the fishy odor emulating from the plant.  It was a “promise” that they were in the right neighborhood, hence the moniker.

"Next stop, fish meal factory!"

“Next stop, fish meal factory!”

What I love most about this quiet part of the Hamptons is how far away it is from the tourist hustle-and-bustle of every other town in the Hamptons.  On a hot day in summer, you can count on seeing several locals windsurf and kiteboard their way across the shimmering waters of Napeague Harbor.  It’s practically a massive swimming hole where locals might for a relaxing day at the beach, but don’t want to share the space with tourists, or who don’t want to get swept away in the Atlantic riptide.  Since the area has very few streetlights, if not any at all, the sky just lights up at night!  On nights when the moon is full, the night becomes so bright, you can still see hints of blue from earlier in the day!  Also, on the Fourth of July, fireworks are shot off from the nearby Devon Yacht Club.  If you stake a good spot near the old fishmeal barn, you’ll be treated to a cornucopia of colorful explosions.  While driving early in the morning, or late in the evening, don’t surprised if you come across any wild deer or rabbits that skip dangerously across the road.  And be sure to lather on the insect repellent; the marshes around Napeague are skeeter country!

"Happy Birthday USA!"

“Happy Birthday USA!”




About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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One Response to Napeague: Deliver Me to the Promised Land!

  1. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Great entry Jared–I need to come visit!!! Hope you are doing well–xoMrs B

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