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.
The keeper's house is a residence for the state park manager. A photo appears above, Jimmy Emerson has a good 2008 photo, the Ricos also have a nice page
for the lighthouse, Bill Britten has an excellent closeup
photo, Huelse has a historic postcard
view, and Google has an aerial
view. The Coast Guard has historic photos taken before
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. There
is a historical exhibit outdoors near the lighthouse. 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. Located on the beach in Presque Isle
State Park (end of PA 832). Site open, tower closed. Owner: Pennsylvania
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Site manager: Presque
Isle State Park. 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)
- 1858 (station established 1830). Active; focal plane 42 ft (13 m);
red flash every 2.5 s. 34 ft (10 m) square cast iron tower 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, J. Becker has
a closeup, Wikipedia's page has a good photo,
another nice closeup photo
is available, and Bing has an aerial view. The lighthouse replaced an 1830 wood tower destroyed
by collision with a ship in 1857. No other surviving U.S. lighthouse
shares this design. The tower has been moved twice (in 1882 and 1940)
to accommodate changes in the pier. Located on the north side of the
Erie Harbor channel entrance at the eastern end of Presque
Isle State Park. 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 an aerial
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 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 3rd order clamshell Fresnel
lens was transferred in 1902 to Marblehead Light in Ohio, and it is now
on display at the Marblehead keeper's house. The original 2-story wood keeper's
house, renovated in 1979, provides a residence for the park caretaker.
The Ricos also have a page for the lighthouse, the Cardacis have a page with photos, Huelse has a historic postcard
view, and Google has an aerial
view. The tower was raised in height by 17 ft (5 m) in 1897. The lantern
and watch room were removed around 1900, when the light was deactivated. They
were replaced by wooden copies 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 restoration 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 an 1818 tower, the earliest U.S. lighthouse on the Great Lakes. Located
in Land 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
Notable faux lighthouses:
Tower (1996), a 187 ft (57 m) observation tower on the Erie waterfront,
resembles a lighthouse but carries no light.
- 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.
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. The Pennsylvania Hunting and Fishing Museum is to
be built near the lighthouse.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: East: Upstate New York | West:
Return to the Lighthouse Directory index
Checked and revised March 19, 2013. Lighthouses: 4. Site
copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.