Lighthouses of the United States: Northwestern Pennsylvania
- Lake Erie Lighthouse
- *** Presque
- 1873. Active; focal plane 73 ft (22 m); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 67
ft (20.5 m) square cylindrical brick tower rising from a 1-1/2 story brick
keeper's house. 300 mm lens. Tower painted white, lantern and gallery black.
A photo appears above, Jimmy Emerson has a good 2008 photo, a 2013 photo is available, Huelse has a historic postcard
view, and Google has a satellite
view and a street view through trees. The Coast Guard has historic photos taken before and after the height of the tower was increased by 33 ft (10 m) in 1896. Presque Isle is a large spit (a glacial moraine) projecting toward the northeast and protecting Erie
Harbor; the entire spit is now included in a Pennsylvania state park. The lighthouse was transferred to state ownership in 1998. In 2006 a new preservation
organization, Keepers of the Erie Lights, launched a fundraising drive to
restore the grounds and rebuild outbuildings. The Pennsylvania legislature
approved a vanity license plate featuring the lighthouse; $17 from the sale
of each plate goes toward the restoration effort. A 2007 architectural study
estimated that a complete restoration of the building would cost about $880,000.
In 2011 there was a plan for a more limited restoration that would cost
$450,000, but no funds were available. In December 2012 Portia Norton, a local resident, donated $196,348 to establish an endowment fund for the lighthouse and the nearby Perry Monument. The keeper's house was for many years a residence for the state park manager, who was required to live in the park. In 2014 the state scrapped that requirement and agreed to lease the lighthouse for 35 years to a non-profit group, the Presque Isle Light Station. The group is offering public tours while working to restore the building to its appearance around 1900. Located on the beach in Presque Isle
State Park (end of PA 832). Site open, tower open to guided tours daily from Memorial Day weekend (late May) through Labor Day (early September), on Friday through Sunday for the rest of September, and on Saturday and Sunday through mid-October. Owner: Pennsylvania
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Presque Isle State Park). Site manager: Presque Isle Light Station . ARLHS USA-666; USCG 7-3690.
Erie Harbor Lighthouses
Note: Erie Harbor, also called Presque Isle Bay, is an oval-shaped lagoon sheltered by the peninsula of Presque Isle. The shallow entrance to the lagoon, at its east end, is held open by a dredged canal. The enclosed bay is vulnerable to pollution, but in recent years there have been strong efforts to restore it to health. In February 2013 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed the bay from its list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
- * Erie
Harbor Pierhead (Presque Isle North Pier) (2)
- 1857 (station established 1830). Active; focal plane 42 ft (13 m);
red flash every 2.5 s. 34 ft (10 m) square cast iron tower, covered with steel plates and with lantern
and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with a horizontal black band;
the lantern is also black. Solar-powered lens (1995); the original
4th order Fresnel
lens is displayed at the Erie
Maritime Museum. C.W. Bash's photo is at right, C. Porter has
a photo, Wikipedia's page has a good photo,
Shawn Christopher has a 2016 street view, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse replaced an 1830 wood tower destroyed
by collision with a ship in 1855. No other surviving U.S. lighthouse
shares this design. The lower portion of the tower was open originally; it was enclosed sometime in the 1890s. The present steel plates were added in 1940. The tower has been moved three times (in 1882, 1891, and 1940)
to accommodate extensions of the pier. Located on the north side of the
Erie Harbor channel entrance at the eastern end of Presque Isle State Park, close to the Coast Guard Station Erie. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower
closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-274; USCG
- * Erie
- Date unknown. Active April through October (privately maintained);
focal plane 32 ft (10 m); white flash every 2 s. 36 ft (11 m) round
cylindrical steel tower, rising through the center of a square gazebo.
Lighthouse painted white, lantern black; gazebo painted white with
a blue metal roof. The Cardacis have good photos, and Google has a satellite
view and a distant street view. The gazebo was added sometime between 2006 and 2010. Located on the outer arm of the east breakwater of the yacht club, off PA 5A and Virginia Avenue on the west
side of Erie. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Erie
Yacht Club. ARLHS USA-1313; USCG 7-3660.
Erie Harbor Pierhead Light, Presque Isle, January 2004
Flickr Creative Commons photo
copyright C.W. Bash
- ** Erie
- 1867 (station established 1818). Inactive 1881-1885 and since 1899. 49 ft
(15 m) round sandstone tower with lantern and gallery, unpainted. Lantern
roof and watch room painted white. The original 2-story wood keeper's
house, renovated in 1979, provides a residence for the park caretaker.
The Cardacis have a page with photos, Huelse has a historic postcard
view, and Google has a closeup street view and a satellite view. The original lighthouse was replaced in 1858; both of the first two towers were abandoned due to settling of their foundations. The original lantern
and 3rd order clamshell Fresnel
lens were removed around 1900, when the light was deactivated, and transferred in 1902 to Marblehead Light in Ohio; the lantern remains in use there and the lens is now
on display at the Marblehead keeper's house. The lantern was replaced by a wooden copy in 1989 as part of a partial restoration of
the tower. In May 2003 a wind gust blew the lantern off, but it was about
to be replaced anyway by a historically accurate replica. The Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority restored the lighthouse using $390,000 in state grant funds; the project was completed in early 2004. In addition to replacement of the lantern, the
project cleaned and repaired the exterior of the lighthouse and the interior
stairway. Lighthouse Digest carried a report in April 2004. The lighthouse was rededicated in June. In August 2011 the lighthouse opened for tours for the first time. Archaeologists working at the light station have uncovered the foundations
of the 1818 tower, one of the earliest U.S. lighthouses on the Great Lakes. Located
in Lighthouse Park at the end of Lighthouse Street in downtown Erie.
Site open daily, tower closed except for occasional guided tours organized by the Erie Port Authority and the Erie Playhouse theater; tickets are required and the proceeds benefit the Playhouse. Owner/site manager: City
of Erie. ARLHS USA-921.
Erie Land Light, Erie, July 2009
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by P. Noble
Conneaut Lake Lighthouses
- Note: Located west of Meadville about 50 mi (80 km) south southwest of Erie, Conneaut Lake is about 3 mi (5 km) long and 1 mi (1.6 km) wide. The largest natural lake in Pennsylvania, it is surrounded by vacation homes.
- Snug Harbor
- 1924. Active; focal plane about 33 ft (10 m); continuous (?) white light. Approx. 30 ft (9 m) round tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. Frank Miklos has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Built by E.H. Shartle, this lighthouse is a familiar landmark of the lakeshore. Located near the southeastern corner of the lake, on Konneyaut Trail. Site and tower closed (private property).
- Lauderdale Estates
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 25 ft (7.5 m); continuous (?) white light. Approx. 23 ft (7 m) octagonal wood tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with two narrow red horizontal bands, lantern roof red. Frank Miklos has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the east side of a canal entrance at the extreme north end of the lake. Site and tower closed (private property).
Notable faux lighthouses:
Tower (1996), a 187 ft (57 m) observation tower on the Erie waterfront,
resembles a lighthouse but carries no light. Google has a street view and a satellite view.
- Erie Waterworks (1906), a small cast iron tower on the bay side of the Preque Isle Peninsula. There is no evidence that this tower ever served as an aid to navigation. Google has a satellite view.
Memorial (Tionesta) (2006), located on an island in the Allegheny
River, is a working lighthouse but not an aid to navigation. Guided tours
are offered periodically. Jennifer DeJulio has a good photo, and Google has a satellite view.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: East: Western New York | West: Ohio
Return to the Lighthouse Directory index
Checked and revised December 7, 2017. Lighthouses: 6. Site
copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.