The first Erie Land Light entered service in 1818, sharing
the distinction with the original Buffalo Lighthouse as the first
on Lake Erie. The original tower was 20 feet high, on a high
bank overlooking the harbor of Erie, PA. The station was
originally known as the Presque Isle Light Station, and later
as the Erie Light Station in 1870, when plans for the Presque Isle Lighthouse on
the northern side of the Presque Isle peninsula were
Structural instability of the original tower led to
construction of a new 56-foot tower in 1858. This tower also
proved unstable. An engineer's borings of the area revealed
a layer of quicksand deep below the surface. The new tower,
a 49-foot tall sandstone structure with a massive foundation,
was completed in 1869.
The new lighthouse served until 1881, when it was deemed
unnecessary, shut down, and the property sold. The
Lighthouse Board later decided that the light was still
needed, and bought back the property in 1885. The tower was
raised seventeen feet in 1897 to clear the trees which had
grown since the property was originally sold. The light
served until 1899, when it was permanently closed.
In 1901, the Fresnel lens was transferred to
Marblehead Light in Ohio, and the lantern room was removed.
In 1934, the land was given to the city of Erie, and is now
Dunn Park. In 1989, a wooden replica of the lantern room was
built, restoring the tower to its original appearance. The adjacent
1867 keeper's residence houses the park caretakers.
In 1999-2000, funding was acquired to restore and refurbish the
lighthouse. Part of this work included replacing the wooden
replica lantern room.
In 2003, a storm tore off the roof of the wooden lantern room.
The stone tower was undamaged. The lighthouse was subsequently
restored, and a new lantern room installed in March 2004.
A 155mm buoy lens was installed in the tower.
A Traveler's Guide to 100 Eastern Great Lakes Lighthouses, Penrose, p. 25
Seaway Trail Lighthouses (2nd Edition), Tinney, Burdette-Watkins p. 51
America's Lighthouses - An Illustrated History, Holland, p. 176
Lighthouses of the Seaway Trail (video)
The Keeper's Log Fall 2003, Spring 2004, Fall 2004
Erie Times-News March 20, 2004