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Erie Land Light
Erie Land Light -
Location: Lighthouse Park,
Erie, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 42°08′39.12″N 80°03′43.56″W / 42.1442°N 80.0621°W / 42.1442; -80.0621Coordinates: 42°08′39.12″N 80°03′43.56″W / 42.1442°N 80.0621°W / 42.1442; -80.0621
Year first constructed: 1867
Foundation: Oak, Limestone, Cement
Construction: Sandstone
Tower shape: Conical
Height: 49 feet (15 m)
Focal Height: 128 feet (39 m)[1]
Original lens: Third order Fresnel
Range: 17 nautical miles (31 km; 20 mi)[2]
ARLHS number: USA-941
Erie Land Lighthouse
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Architect: U.S. Government
Governing body: Local
Added to NRHP: March 30, 1978
NRHP Reference#: 78002397[3]

The Erie Land Light, also known as the Old Presque Isle Light, is a 49-foot (15 m) lighthouse in Erie, Pennsylvania. It is one of the three lighthouses in Erie, along with the Presque Isle Light and the North Pier Light. The lighthouse is located in Lighthouse Park off of Dunn Boulevard.

The lighthouse was originally built in 1818, but the tower was replaced twice. The current structure was built in 1867 and was documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1936. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 30, 1978.



The Erie Land Light was originally constructed in 1818 and was the first lighthouse built by the United States Government on the Great Lakes.[4] The lighthouse was a 20-foot (6.1 m) tall square tower and had started to sink into the ground in 1851. The tower had to be replaced in 1857.[4] The lenses were manufactured by L. Sauter & Son in Paris, France and cost $7,000.[4]

The second tower was a 58-foot (18 m) tall, conical tower made from Milwaukee brick.[5] The second tower's foundation also proved defective and had to be replaced again in 1866.[4] An investigation found that a thin layer of quicksand was below the foundation of the tower.

HABS/HAER photo of the lighthouse in 1936 without its lantern.

The third tower was built from Berea sandstone. To prevent the tower from sinking like its predecessors, 20-foot (6.1 m) long oak timbers were sunk into ground with 6 feet (1.8 m) of crushed limestone and Portland cement poured over the timbers.[4] A two-story, saltbox lightkeeper's house was also built at the same time.

The lighthouse was deactivated in 1880 when it was deemed unnecessary because of the recently constructed Presque Isle Light on Presque Isle.[6] It was sold for $1,200. The government re-purchased and reactivated the light in 1885 after much public outcry.[6] It was operated until December 26, 1899 when it was deactivated again. The lenses were removed in 1902 and were sent to the Marblehead Light in Ohio.[1] A roof made from tar paper was placed over tower after the lantern room was removed.[2] The city of Erie bought the lighthouse in 1934.


Modern use and restoration

A wooden replica of the lantern room was placed on the tower in 1990 and was relit on December 26, 1999.[6][7] The replica lantern room was eventually blown off of the tower on May 5, 2003 during a windstorm.[8]

A 6,300-pound (2,900 kg) copper replica of the original lantern room was hoisted on to the lighthouse on March 19, 2004.[9] The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission provided $400,000 in grants for restoration work including the lantern room, stairs and brickwork.[7] The restoration was completed on June 19, 2004.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Erie Land Lighthouse". National Park Service. March 1, 2002. Retrieved May 23, 2007.  
  2. ^ a b Wewr, William J. (September 13, 1977). "Erie Land Lighthouse" (PDF). Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Retrieved November 17, 2008.  
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2008.  
  4. ^ a b c d e Morrison, Karl E. (October 5, 1936). "Land Light House". Erie, PA: Historic American Buildings Survey. Retrieved November 17, 2008.  
  5. ^ Bates, Samuel P. (1884). History of Erie County. Chicago: Warner, Beers & Co. OCLC 8622308. Retrieved May 24, 2007.  
  6. ^ a b c Wright, Larry; Patricia Wright (2006). Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia. Erin, ON: Boston Mills Press. p. 101. ISBN 1550463993.  
  7. ^ a b "History Made at Erie’s Land Light". Lighthouse Digest (South Portland, ME). May 2004. ISSN 1066-0038. Retrieved November 28, 2008.  
  8. ^ Gardener, Jule (May 6, 2003). "Erie Land Lighthouse loses top in storm". Erie Times-News: p. 4B.  
  9. ^ Erwin, Erica (March 20, 2004). "Lighthouse landmark gets its lantern room". Erie Times-News: pp. 1B, 2B.  
  10. ^ Hahn, Tim (June 20, 2004). "Project was a tall order". Erie Times-News: pp. 1B, 5B.  

Further reading


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