Smith Point County Park gets its name from William “Tangier” Smith, a native of England who served as mayor of Tangier, Morocco. Smith originally purchased about 64,000 acres of property in the 1700s, which was later known as the Manor of St. George.
Smith Point, often called Smith Point Beach, lies on the eastern end of Fire Island, the outer barrier island off Long Island. It is the county’s largest oceanfront park, where people go to swim, fish, boat and camp.
The park offers 270 tent and trailer sites with water and electric hookups. Tiki Joe’s Beach Club provides food, drink and live music.
In 1911, the U.S. government proposed the creation of the Tangier Bridge to cross over the Great South Bay to Fire Island. A wood bridge was built for temporary use but ended up staying there until it was damaged by harsh winter conditions in 1927.
The beach remained bridge-less until July 4, 1959, when a steel bridge was built, the one we still use today, according to Bradford Shupe, local history reference librarian at Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Library.
Smith Point County Park was established in 1964 as part of the Fire Island National Seashore, under the National Park Services, according to a timeline provided by the Mastic Peninsula Historical Society.
On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800, a flight en route to France, exploded a few miles off the coast of Fire Island, near East Moriches. All 230 passengers on board died, making it one of the worst aviation disasters in U.S. history. Smith Point is home to the TWA Flight 800 Memorial, which debuted on July 4, 2004.
Over the years, the beach has receded due to noreasters and hurricanes.
In February, a $15 million dredging project was completed by the Army Corps of Engineers, which added sand to depressed areas, including the Moriches inlet and other beaches on Fire Island, according to News 12 Long Island.
The Suffolk County Legislature approved a $526.3 million capital spending plan, on June 4 that will in part fund reconstruction of the Smith Point Bridge, according to Newsday.
Here are photos of Smith Point County Park and the surrounding area dating back to the late 1800s. Please click on 1 to 5.