Photo of the Week
—– August 29, 2022 —–
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
— John Steinbeck
BULL’S HEAD TOLL HOUSE
Bull’s Head Toll House, Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor, 1800s. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright (c) Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Most nineteenth-century Long Island roads were in poor condition from horses and buggies, stagecoaches, and teams of animals that caused deep mud-filled ruts in the rainy season and dusty conditions during the summer months. Early in the century the state had not yet assumed the building and maintaining of roads, and the toll system was devised to raise funds for road maintenance.
From Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor, tolls were collected at the Bull’s Head toll house, which stood on the west side of the Sag Harbor Turnpike about two miles from the business district. Daniel McCullin and his family occupied the house and collected the toll for every horse, carriage, and team of animals that passed through. For every wagon drawn by two horses, mules, or oxen, the cost was 8 cents – and every additional horse, mule, or oxen would cost an additional 2 cents. A wagon drawn by one horse was a 4-cent toll, and a score of cattle 10 cents. There were actually two toll gates to Sag Harbor, the other being on the East Hampton side.
After the railroad was built and extended to the area in 1870, the turnpike road deteriorated. In 1905, the Bull’s Head gate was removed and the following year Southampton Town became responsible for the maintenance of the turnpike. Finally, in 1909, the toll house was destroyed by fire, but the toll board was saved and donated to the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum.