Scenic USA - New York

Fort Niagara Lighthouse

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Fort Niagara Lighthouse - Youngstown, New York

Photo by Gerri Jones
Gerri Jones Photography

   Following the British capture of French held Fort Niagara in 1759, the Brits established the first Great Lakes lighthouse on the roof of Fort Niagara. After the Revolutionary War, England relinquished Fort Niagara to the United States.
   As the Niagara River approaches Niagara Falls, the fort provided mariners a useful landmark during the day. At night, a wooden lighthouse, perched atop the fort, was the only visible warning sign. After a few attempts at maintaining the lighthouse tower on top of Fort Niagara, Congress approved funds in 1870 for construction of a modern facility. Built to last, the lighthouse was constructed of large limestone blocks. The brick lined octagonal tower received an additional 11 foot extension in 1900, extending the range of the beam to a maximum of 25 miles out into Lake Ontario.
   Well defined by the glow of a fading sun, you can't help but notice the stonework details on the tower and oil room. You don't have to be a stonemason to appreciate the series of arched supports under the lantern watchroom, stone arches around the window casements and its roofline lintels. This detail work is simply a masonry marvel.
   Even though the Canadian built Welland Canal siphoned off Niagara River traffic, the Niagara Lighthouse remained active until 1993. Rather than remove or severely trim a small grove of trees surrounding the lighthouse, the U.S. Coast Guard opted to place a modern optic on top of a nearby radio tower. The 140 year old lighthouse is now deactivated and part of Old Fort Niagara, a National Historic Landmark.

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