These rocky reefs, about a mile northwest of Sands Point on the western end of Long Island Sound, carry a chilling legend of how they received their name. According to folklore, which has never been proven true, the British avoided public executions in Colonial times because they would inflame the revolutionary spirit of the American people. Instead, they would carry the condemned to these reefs at low tide, chain them to rings embedded in the rock, and wait for high tide to carry out the death sentence. Some say the skeletons were left to torture the minds of the newly condemned as they faced certain death.
The light went into service in 1850, and remained manned until December 5, 1979, when it was refitted with a white flashing modern optic. Sightings of ghosts on the rocks have occasionally been reported, but USCG Keeper Stan Fletcher, who retired from Execution Rocks in 1970, reassured folks that he never shared the place with a ghost. Nowadays, the only earthly visitor to the Execution Rocks Lighthouse is an occasional Coast Guard attendant performing routine maintenance.
In May of 2007, the Execution Rocks Lighthouse was excessed by the Coast Guard and offered to eligible entities through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. Historically Significant Structures was the only organization to submit an application, and in January of 2009, the group received the deed for the lighthouse from the federal government. Efforts are underway to raise $1.2 million and turn Execution Rocks into the first Long Island lighthouse to allow regularly scheduled overnight stays.