From The Bayside
by Bob Doxsee
Reprinted from The Community Outlook, April 2009
The name of our community, Point Lookout, has been in use since the early seventeen hundreds. Although the actual location has changed, due to the ever westward migration of the inlet, it has always been on the eastern point of Long Beach Island and was used as a lookout station for shore based whalers. Hence the name, Point Lookout.
In those days, the oil from whales was in great demand for lubrication, oil lamps for lighting, tallow for candles and various other uses such as the manufacture of soaps, paint, varnish and used in the process of making textiles and rope. The bone was used in buggy whips, carriage springs, corset stays,fishing rods, hoops for women's skirts, and umbrella ribs.
When a whale was sighted close inshore a crew would row out through the surf to pursue the whale. A right whale was preferred because that was the right whale to pursue. After killing the whale it would be towed inshore and fetched up to the beach side too. At low tide, large blanket pieces of blubber were cut off on the topside. At high tide the whale was rolled over and the same procedure was done on the bottom. As the blubber was removed it was carted off to the try works somewhere down the beach. There it was cut into smaller chunks and rendered down in two hundred fifty gallon try pots over a fire. The furnace was started with wood but scrap from the whale provided the fuel for its own trying out. After the blubber was tried out and cooled, the oil was stored in barrels ready for shipment.
In 1886 Austin Corbin and the Long Beach Hotel and Cottage Company took over the bankrupt Point Lookout properties built in 1881 including the storm wracked Marine Railroad between Long Beach and Point Lookout. Austin Blvd in Island Park is named for him. The name of the former ~ating establishment, Corbin and Reynolds, s shared by both Austin Corbin and William <eynolds, the twentieth century developer )f Long Beach. Improvements were made mt subsequent storms destroyed the rail'Oad and the Hotel and Cottage Company „ent under. In 1892 several of the cottages „ere moved to Long Beach and the hotel „as eventually destroyed by fire. For more letailed information on the marine railroad md early Point Lookout refer to the October ~006 edition of The Lookout.
Directly to the east, across the inlet, was Jones beach, namesake of Major Thomas Jones, a Welsh Privateer. A soldier of forune, Major Jones obtained a Royal Commission from the king of England in the form of a Letter of Marques, which allowed lim to prey on French shipping. He was in he West Indies in 1692 and for the next four lears his activities were "murky". It would appear that he did not cross the line from privateer to pirate and thus hang as did Captain Kidd who attacked other than French ships. Like Captain Kidd, rumors abounded as to Jones's buried treasure on Long Island.
In 1696 he showed up on Long Island and purchased six thousand acres of land on the south shore including Jones Beach where he established a whaling station. In his later years his wealth was quietly attributed to his "shipping interests"
Major Jones was the forefather of the Long Island Jones Dynasty. The phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses" is attributed to his descendants. For the next two centuries the Joneses served as judges, jurists, industrialists, fought on both sides of America's wars and left their mark on New York history. DeLancey Floyd Jones was related directly and or through marriage to William Floyd and Philip Livingston, both signers of the Declaration of Independence.
During the Revolutionary War, Judge Thomas Jones, a Tory, was kidnapped by patriots and taken to Connecticut. Jones was exchanged for an American General at a midway point in Long Island Sound. Major Jones's descendants married other members of affluent local families, among them the Hewletts, Livingstons, Gardiners and the Gracies .
Land was donated by the Jones family to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; La Guardia Airport in Queens stands on another tract they once owned. Many of the houses in Cold Spring Harbor were built by Jones descendants who became whalers and made fortunes sailing out of that historic port.
Major Jones wrote his own epitaph:
"From distant lands to this wild waste he came to this seat he chose and here he fixed his name"
Except for a few fishermen, squatters and boaters, the beach that would bear his name remained uninhabited. Until Robert Moses, whose motto was "those that can, build, -those that can't, criticize," stood on the deserted shore in the 1920's and visualized a huge waterfront recreation park.
Early in 1927, Bob Moses, along with a group of prominent architects, made the trip across the bay to Jones Beach. As they stood on that desolate shoreline, Moses began sketching out a vast park on the back of an envelope. One of the famous architects said, "Are you crazy?" They were on an isolated, deserted sandbar and Moses was talking about building bathhouses like palaces and a parking lot for ten thousand cars. And landscaping on a sandbar. They thought he was nuts. Construction began in 1927.
Creating Jones Beach State Park was a monumental job. The level of the beach was only two feet above sea level. The land had to be twelve feet higher in order to build the bathhouses, parking lots and the incoming parkway. Over forty million cubic yards of sand were pumped out of the bay bottom and on to the beach.
The building of Jones Beach State Park was a boon to many Long Islanders. One man who contributed to the building of the Park was my dad, Bob Doxsee Sr. With his self powered barge, the /Bright Eye/, sixty feet long by twenty feet wide she could load and deliver tools, machinery, equipment and men to almost all shore front locations. Rigged with booms facing fore and aft, powered by a six cylinder Lycoming engine with a power take off and a double drum Stroudsburg hoist she could lift a heavy load and with her tunnel stem and shallow draft she could even run up on the beach. Pop also worked on the abutments of several of the bridges and after the park opened set out lifelines for bathers. In the early stages of construction there were no roads in and out of the park so everything had to be brought in over water. One of the New York State engineers on the job was a young fellow named Joe Miller, from western Pennsylvania, a long way from home. He and Pop became friends and often came to our home where he met Mother's sister, Martha. Uncle Joe was a fine man.
A construction foreman for one of the contractors was a very hard man by the name of Carl Moyer. Pop was fond of saying "I was born prematurely and have been in a hurry ever since." In spite of the fact that he was known as "Mr. Perpetual Motion" he had met his match in Moyer.
"HURRY UP; GET THE LEAD OUT, WHAT TOOK SO LONG?" Those were hard times but it was humiliating for Pop. The inevitable confrontation took place. Picture the scene. Two hard driving men squared off in each other's faces. A conflict of this magnitude could only be resolved one way or the other. Fortunately, it was the other. They became life long friends.
- Bob Doxsee