Thursday, May 21, 2015

Upcoming June 5th Tour features the History of Two Lake County Lighthouses only .8 miles apart

In 1807 a proposal for a canal system was made.  Ten years later construction officially began.  On October 26, 1825 a 363 mile-36 lock Erie Canal opened connecting New York-the Atlantic Ocean-and the Great Lakes.  New York eclipsed Philadelphia as the largest seaport on the east coast.  The Erie Canal is said to be the most extraordinary feat of engineering of the 19th century.  The impact of the canal had an even greater footprint in what was soon to be Lake County.  The opening of the canal now allowed commercial shipping into the Great Lakes and made Lake Erie an important hub in history.  The ports of Madison and Fairport became key sites in early shipping history.  The removal of the need to portage allowed both communities to rise up during the mid-to-late 1800's.

The Grand River Lighthouse at Fairport (Harbor was added in 1959) was commissioned in 1825.  Under the auspices of the United States Lifesaving Service its light shone for nearly a hundred years.  Reknowed Western Reserve architect Jonathon Goldsmith was charged with its build.  Samuel Butler was its first keeper.  Its history included fourteen keepers,  participating in the UGRR and the Mormon Migration, being rebuilt in 1871 as well as witnessing maritime events on the Great Lakes.  A third order Fresnel Lens, 1876 Life Car, famous ship's mast from 1843 and 1904 Oil House are just some of the many stories that will be shared on a tour Friday night June 5th.

The Fairport Westbreakwater Lighthouse's story dates back to approximately 1907.  A wall was under construction on the west side of the Grand River.  The original 1825 lighthouse was nearing its end as a navigational aid and Cleveland was now the hub of Lake Erie shipping commerce.  Prefabricated steel shell lighthouses were soon to be in place in Ashtabula (1904) and Lorain (1916) replacing older original generation versions.  On June 21, 1921 the steamer Wotan delivered the shell of a new lighthouse to Fairport.  Four years later it was commissioned and to this day remains an active aid to navigation.  Tended by the USCG its last live-in-crew was around 1948.  In 2012 the keeper's dwelling was sold to a private owner who is currently renovating and preserving the 42' structure.  2015 marks the Westbreakwater Lighthouse's 90th anniversary.  The owner will be on hand on June 5th to share her summer residence and lighthouse's history.

Sign-up for the tour at or call 440-354-4825 for more information.  The deadline is June 1st.



SAMUEL BUTLER                  1825-1833

ELIJAH DIXON                        1833-1839

JEREMIAH O. BALCH             1839

NEHEMIA MERRITT              1839-1841

THOMAS GREER                    1845-1846

ISAAC SPEAR                           1846-1849

HENDRICK E. PAINE              1849-1853

OLMSTED BAKER                  1853-1856

HALSEY H. BAKER                1856-1861

JAMES McADAMS                 1861-1865

GEORGE F. RODGERS          1865-1871

JOSEPH C. BABCOCK          1871-1881

GEORGE L. RIKER                 1881-1900

DANIEL BABCOCK                 1919-1925


No comments:

Post a Comment