Sisters Island Lighthouse is 12.5 miles northeast of
Alexandria Bay. The stone structure was built in 1870, and
housed a sixth-order Fresnel lens in a 60-foot tower
incorporated into the keeper's residence. The lighthouse and
neighboring shed are the only structures on tiny Three
Sisters Island. Once three separate islands, the islands
are now linked together.
The lighthouse was built to mark a difficult channel on
the Canadian side of the island. It took nine years of
negotiation before the lighthouse was actually built.
lighthouse entered service, the channel was relocated to the
American side of the island. Bedrock at the bottom of the
river was blasted to clear the channel. During a storm, a
barge carrying dynamite exploded, killing nine crew members.
The first keeper was Civil War veteran William Dodge, who
was replaced by his son. Together, the Dodge family served the
Sisters Island light for 51 years. Horace Walts later
served both Sisters Island and
In about 1890 the passenger steamer Ocean collided with
the barge Kent. The Dodges were awakened by a violent crash
as the Ocean hit the rocks at Sisters Island,
her captain steaming his sinking vessel at full speed to the
shallow island waters.
One serious annoyance at Sisters Island was the numerous
shadflies which inhabited the area. These large insects
would occasionally block the oxygen intake of the lamp and
extinguish the flame. If this were not enough, the resulting
gas leak was a hazard to the entire station. When the
shadfly population was high, the keepers had to constantly
monitor the flame.
With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, the light was
replaced by a nearby buoy.
Today, the light is a private residence and is no longer active.
Seaway Trail Lighthouses (2nd Edition), Tinney, Burdette-Watkins, p. 45
Lighthouses of the Seaway Trail (video)
19th Century Lights, Clifford p. 207