The “Devil’s Stepping Stones” off City Island

New York is a city of islands: large ones like Manhattan, plus smaller scraps off Orchard Beach in the Bronx, such as City Island and Hart Island (New York’s potter’s field), as seen on the map below.

And then there are even tinier chunks of bedrock that aren’t usually named on maps: Rat Island, the Chimney Sweeps Islands, and High Island.

Today, these islands dotting easternmost Long Island Sound are mostly uninhabited bird rest stops.

Hundreds of years ago, however, they were known as the Devil’s Stepping Stones:

“According to fable, Indians were chasing the Devil across the sound, and every time he put his cloven hoof down, an island was formed,” reported a 1995 New York Times article.

Though it’s technically inside Long Island’s borders, the nearby Stepping Stones Lighthouse gets its name from this fascinating legend.

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4 Responses to “The “Devil’s Stepping Stones” off City Island”

  1. petey Says:

    great find. i never heard those stories before.

  2. 16thSt Says:

    My neighbors wrote a book about New York’s other islands:

  3. Ron Brinn Says:

    Legend has it that the Devil was chased out of the Sound by Indians. The Devil threw huge Stones over his shoulder to
    keep the Indians from catching him. Another version has the Devil
    laying down stones for his escape. The Steppingstone Lighthouse
    marks the stones for passing boats. Actually, the stones are probably left from A glacial moraine. I sail my Sunfish out there
    and it is a great spot.

    Ron Brinn
    Great Neck

  4. Stepping Stones Light & the Devil's Stepping StonesOld Salt Blog Says:

    […] The lighthouse marks Stepping Stones Reef, which is part of a group of the twenty nearby islands and rocks referred to as the Devil’s Stepping Stones. […]

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