Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse
Oswego is the first port at the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the vast maritime highway of the Great Lakes. Since 1822, lighthouses have marked Oswego Harbor to provide for the safe arrival and departure for the mariner. The lighthouses facilitated Oswego's development as a commercial port in response to the building of two canals, The Oswego Canal which connected Lake Ontario to the Erie Canal in Syracuse, NY and the Welland Canal which, bypassed Niagara Falls, and allowed lake vessels to sail between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes.
In 1822, a 20ft rubble stone tower was built on the east bank of the mouth of the Oswego River on the bluff next to Fort Ontario. A modest stone keeper's house completed the light station. The completion of the Oswego Canal in 1828 prompted the addition of breakwaters to the mouth of the Oswego River to develop a useful commercial harbor. In 1837 a new 45 ft cut stone lighthouse tower was completed on the breakwater on the west side of the mouth of the river. The 1822 tower was demolished in 1841; however the original keeper's house still remains at Fort Ontario. Over the next 80 years, the 1837 lighthouse underwent various improvements to better serve as a navigational aid for the port.
Starting in 1870, for the next approximately 20 years the harbor at Oswego underwent another major expansion including a new larger outer breakwater on the west side of the harbor. An additional lighthouse was added to the eastern end of this new breakwater in 1889. This lighthouse began in 1872 as an unmanned beacon but became its own light station with a keeper and an assistant in 1889. In 1917 this lighthouse became the principal Oswego lighthouse. The 1837 tower was decommissioned and then demolished in 1927.
In 1930, another major Oswego port expansion was again prompted by a new larger Welland Canal. The 1889 tower was dismantled in 1931 and a new lighthouse, the present Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse, was completed in 1934 at the east end of the new west arrowhead breakwater.
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