Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2023

The Keeper Who Rescued Einstein

By Timothy Harrison


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Lighthouse keeper Arthur Bouder (1904-1966) with ...

Although there is no documented proof, it is widely believed by many that Arthur Bouder, who was the keeper of New York’s Huntington Harbor Lighthouse from 1935 to 1938, rescued world-famous scientist Albert Einstein from a small sailboat that had capsized near the lighthouse.

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New York State’s Huntington Harbor Lighthouse as ...

It is widely known that Albert Einstein (1879-1955), who is the most influential physicist of all time and best known for developing the theory of relativity, loved to sail and enjoyed as much time as he could on the water. According to author Jamie Sayen in his book, Einstein in America, Einstein claimed that he would have been happy living as a lighthouse keeper where, surrounded by the sky and the sea, he would have been able to pursue his scientific research without disturbance. It is also known that he was not exactly the best sailor and there are documented accounts of his sailboat capsizing multiple times over the years.

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Albert Einstein (Library of Congress)

Many rescues, considered by some keepers to be part of the everyday job of a lighthouse keeper, were simply not recorded in the station’s log book.

Arthur Bouder, who started his lighthouse career in the 1920s, was a veteran keeper by the time he transferred in 1935 to be the keeper of the Huntington Harbor Lighthouse in Long Island Sound near Huntington, New York. Although there are a number of written accounts of keeper Bouder having rescued boaters, none of them mentioned Einstein by name. However, there is also no reason to believe that the story of Einstein’s rescue by lighthouse keeper Bouder, that has been passed down through generations, and retold many times, is not true.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2023 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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