Preserve Plum Island - Fighting to preserve 843 acres of wildlife habitat from development
Plum Island

History of Plum Island

Plum Island, so named from the abundance of beach plum shrubs that cover it, has a long and colorful history. First “owned” by the Corchaug and Mantauk Indian tribes, the island was sold to Samuel Wyllys for a coat, a barrel of biscuits and 100 fishhooks. In 1775, Plum Gut was the site of the first battle between British and Continental troops. General George Washington ordered General Wooster and his troops to land (near the site of the present lighthouse) to prevent livestock raids by the British. The landing party was quickly repelled by the British and returned to Oyster Ponds (now Orient Point) under fire. This was the first amphibious landing under fire by American troops.

Fort Terry MapThe federal government first claimed ownership on Plum Island in 1826 when it purchased 13 acres for the site where the Plum Island Lighthouse would be constructed. The lighthouse, also referred to as the Plum Gut Lighthouse, was constructed a year later. It served until as late as 1978 helping mariners navigate the often-treacherous waters of Plum Gut. In 1897 the property owner sold another 150 acres of the island to the federal government for the construction of Fort Terry, a fortification first used in the Spanish-American War. The rest of the island was purchased by the federal government in 1901.

Fort Terry was decommissioned and declared surplus in 1948. By 1954, under the aegis of the US Department of Agriculture, PIADC became operational. In 1991 the federal government turned over operations of the facility to a private party.

Preserve Plum Island Coalition - PO Box 735 - Huntington, NY 11743 -