The Great Lakes Seaway Trail tour of lighthouses continues. I never get tired of observing these guiding lights and I hope my readers agree because I think they offer us a compelling insight.
During our search for Lake Ontario’s beacons during our early summer journey along that national scenic byway, often it took some perseverance to find a perfect location to spot some of the lighthouses we sought.
Oswego West Pierhead is a good example and I’m happy to report our persistence paid off. Since this particular lighthouse is located off the coast of Oswego, New York, and is not open to the public, it’s not easy to access.
Owned by the city of Oswego but operated by the U.S. Coast Guard since it is an active navigation aid, it’s located a half-mile out into the lake on a breakwater. We finally found a spot to park where we could view the lighthouse in the distance, and I managed to get some decent photos using a telephoto lens.
The current tower was erected in 1934 to replace an earlier one constructed in 1889 and has an attached one-story keeper’s quarters, which is not used because the station became automated in 1968. Oswego West Pierhead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been the site of tragedy. Six members of the Coast Guard died when a boat transferring lighthouse keepers capsized in the lake in December 1942.
On to Port Ontario, we again drummed up some patience to locate our next stop at Selkirk Lighthouse, situated on land at the mouth of the Salmon River. Situated on a sharp turn along a narrow road beside the river, with a small marina and few public parking areas, we were able to find a spot to pull over so I could capture a few shots of Selkirk.
An interesting aspect of this beacon is that it is one of only four United States lighthouses that still has an original bird-cage lantern. Constructed in the 1830’s with stone from a nearby quarry, eventually a need for Selkirk Lighthouse was no longer justified, and it was deactivated by 1858.
A private citizen purchased the building in 1895 with intentions to turn it into part of a hotel development. A few years later, the owner suffered a massive heart attack and died but his family continued to operate the property, which changed hands a couple more times, and eventually the hotel and property became popular with vacationers.
The hotel didn’t survive though and was razed, but current owners restored the lighthouse and offer nightly and weekly accommodations there and in cottages nearby. By special request, overnight guests can climb the light tower.
The next three lighthouses listed on the driving tour of the national scenic byway proved even more difficult to observe, trying our patience and causing us to spend quite a bit of time attempting to view them. Stony Point Lighthouse in Henderson Harbor was more easily seen but is privately owned, so while viewing it from the road, I chose not to share a photo here to respect the owner’s privacy.
We never did find spots to catch sight of the other two lighthouses located respectively on Galoo Island and Horse Island a few miles offshore in Lake Ontario. The only way to access these two beacons is by boat and much of the property on the islands is private.
But we didn’t give up! And next week on my Tuesday Tour, I’ll showcase the last few lighthouses we encountered on our June journey and one of my favorites among the many we observed on this scenic tour.
Lighthouses remind me that even when life gets kind of wonky and it doesn’t work out the way we plan, we must not surrender to defeat. And hasn’t life indeed been strange and thrown us all for a loop since 2020 and the onset of the you know what?
But we cannot give up. We can’t succumb to adverse conditions in life, no matter what it throws at us.
Instead, we need to stand firm and be shining lights to those around us who struggle and falter. Maybe we all can be lighthouses. We just have to keep shining.
“Lighthouses don’t get all wobbly when the weather gets rough; they just stand there shining.” ~ Unknown