Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Blessings From My Home to Yours

May you have a safe and joyous Holiday Season

Monday, December 14, 2009

Olcott Light, NY

In the 1870s, piers were constructed on either side of Eighteen Mile Creek, so named because of its location eighteen miles east of the Niagara River, to form a protected Harbor at Olcott. Each pier extended over 800 feet into Lake Ontario, and the end of the western pier was marked in 1873 with a square, pyramidal tower built of wood.

Olcott was a port of entry, and ships from Canada would regularly offload grain there to be shipped to Rochester and Oswego. The port was staffed with a custom inspector, and a lighthouse keeper. R.M. Mathews served as a keeper for several years and was known for always wearing his uniform while on duty. Around 1930, the lighthouse, no longer needed, was relocated to a local yacht club. The tower slowly deteriorated over the years until about 1963 when the club decided the tower could not be restored and dismantled it.

Olcott, once a popular lakeside resort, is experiencing a rebirth, and the lighthouse was not the only historic icon to return to the city in 2003. A separate group had spent thee years raising funds to purchase and refurbish a 1928 Herschell-Spillman carousel to replace one that was part of the former Olcott Amusement Park. Besides the carousel, vintage rocket-ship, boat, car, and fighter-plane rides were also operational in 2004 as part of the children’s Olcott Beach Carousel Park. Rides on the carousel are only a quarter and are enjoyed both by children and the young at heart.

Old Fort Niagara Lighthouse, Ontario

Fort Niagara was established in 1726, on the northeastern shore of the Niagara River, facing Lake Ontario. "The French Castle", as the fort was nicknamed, was constructed in a region of growing importance to French fur traders. The fort was used as a day mark for the traders. The British captured Fort Niagara in 1759, during the French and Indian War. The British established a light on the roof of the castle in 1781. This light remained in service until 1796, when it was discontinued by the Americans.

The tower was dismantled in approximately 1803. A new beacon was established in 1823. A wooden tower was built on the roof of the castle. The Erie Canal (1825) and Welland Canal (1829), which bypassed the area, greatly reduced commercial traffic past the fort. In particular, the Welland Canal bypassed the Niagara River entirely, opening up direct travel between Lakes Erie and Ontario. (Previously, vessels would have needed to bypass Niagara Falls.)

In 1872, the light was replaced by the current structure, an octagonal gray stone tower outside the fort. The tower was originally 50 feet high. In 1900, the tower height was increased by 11 feet (above the protruding ring of arches on the present tower). The new space below the lantern room served as a keeper's watchroom, and the light was visible for 25 miles. The Coast Guard discontinued the light on May 13, 1993.

The lighthouse is currently leased to the Old Fort Niagara Association, which maintains the light as a museum and gift shop.