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U.S. Life-Saving Service: Largely Forgotten Heroes

An interesting historical footnote that remains mostly unknown is the United States Life-Saving Service. In 1878, Congress formalized an existing loose network of volunteers and stocked coastal refuges designed to aid wrecked ships into the "Live-Saving Service." Money was allocated to employ crews for stations. Crewmen worked hard and were incredibly brave, launching their small life-saving boats into heavy surf by themselves during storms to save lives.

Long Island had many manned life-saving stations because of heavy shipping traffic from Europe to New York Harbor. Recreational boating was much less of a focus than commercial shipping.

An 1878 survey lists the follow stations: Montauk Point, Ditch Plains, Hither Plain, Napeague, Amagansett, Georgica, Bridgehampton, Southampton, Shinnecock, Tyana, Quogue, and more all the way to the Rockaways.

In 1915, President Wilson merged the Life-Saving Service with the Revenue Cutter Service (the armed maritime law enforcement service) to create the Coast Guard.

One station that still exists is in Amagansett, built in 1906. It is currently being restored to its original appearance, and will be used a museum, an office for the town lifeguards, and a public meeting space.
· Amagansett Life-Saving Station Being Returned to Its Roots [27 East]
· US Life-Saving Service Heritage Association [Official Site]