Friday, April 23, 2010
Along the shores of Lake Erie
This armchair traveler is headed for Erie, Pennsylvania, to visit one of three active lighthouses in the state. A sand bar along the Lake Erie shoreline forms a peninsula, dubbed Presque Isle, or "almost an island," by French explorers and traders, which has given this lighthouse its name.
Presque Isle North Pierhead lighthouse, completed in 1857, was not the first station to serve navigation in this region. In 1818, Erie Land lighthouse was constructed on a bluff overlooking Erie Harbor, and a beacon was placed on a pier at the harbor entrance in 1830. A storm in 1855, however, caused a ship to crash into the tower and destroy the beacon.
The design of the 1857 lighthouse, pictured here with its distinctive black band, is unique among U.S. lighthouses surviving today. The two-story, cast-iron structure, built at a cost of slightly over $5,000, was fitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens displaying a fixed red light.
The lighthouse was relocated to its present site in 1940. In 1955, a modern flashing red light replaced its original lens, which is now on display at the Erie Maritime Museum.
There's a lot of sky and water to work on here, so I'd better get stitching!