Circus Trip 2018: Fort Niagara Light


Day 44, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fort Niagara State Historic Park, Youngstown, New York

The current Fort Niagara Light was completed in 1872.

Of course, it was not the first lighthouse on this site; the first was built on a pedestal on top of the French Castle in 1782.  It was lit with whale oil and reflectors.  It was removed by 1806.

It was challenging for ships to navigate this route through Lake Ontario without a light, and a light was once again erected on the roof of the French Castle in 1823.  And there it rotated for years.  A tornado damaged the fort and the light in 1855, and historical records from the period show the light was in a poor state of repair.  Advancing technologies meant that a fourth order Fresnel lens was sent to Fort Niagara in 1857, and mounted on the rooftop light.

The light structure continued to deteriorate and a fire burned the roof of the light.  In 1868, recommendations were made to built a completely new lighthouse, with a keeper’s quarters; up to this point the keeper lived in a separate building and had to travel through the officer’s quarters several times a night to get to the light.  The new Fort Niagara Light was constructed between 1871 and 1872, and the fourth order Fresnel lens was moved over to the new lighthouse.

You can visit the lighthouse and climb to the top for free; you just have to sign a waiver, and be at least four feet tall.  The lighthouse is 61 feet tall, and there are 72 steps to the top!  Keep in mind that the winding staircase is very narrow and some of the steps are quite tall and not very deep.  You want to be careful!  It is worth it though, for such a pretty view!

 

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