|Olcott (Replica), NY|
Description: 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. Burt Van Horn, a Congressman from Newfane, located just a few miles south of Olcott, was instrumental in obtaining the $200,000 required for the port improvements.
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.
On July 1, 1930, the function of Olcott Lighthouse was taken over by a red, steel post that was mounted fifteen feet from the end of the west pier. This position was twenty-six feet north of the old lighthouse, which was removed from the pier on July 3. The new light had a focal plane of twenty-eight feet.
No longer needed, the wooden lighthouse was relocated to a local yacht club, where it slowly deteriorated over the years until about 1963 when the club decided the tower could not be restored and dismantled it.
The story of the Olcott Lighthouse would have ended there if not for a group of citizens, known as the Olcott Lighthouse Society, who were determined to bring a lighthouse back to the community. Jump-started by a $1,000 donation from the local Lion’s Club, the group was able to raise roughly $6,000, and in 2003 work on an accurate, full-scale reproduction began. As no blueprints or architectural drawings of the original lighthouse were available, a collection of historic photographs was used to develop plans for the replica lighthouse. The 27-foot-tall tower was constructed of white pine in a “Dutch Lap” style of overlapping boards.
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.
Located at the intersection of Ontario Street and Lockport-Olcott Road along the waterfront in Olcott. The lighthouse is owned by the Town of Olcott. Grounds/tower open.
The lighthouse is owned by the Town of Olcott. Grounds/tower open.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.