Exploring the Historic Lighthouses of Erie

Exploring th ethree historic lighthouses in Erie Pennsylvania.

Erie, Pennsylvania is home to three historic lighthouses, all of which helped mariners navigate their way along the shores of Lake Erie and into or out of the Erie harbors and Presque Isle Bay.

A map showing the location of the three historic lighthouses in Erie Pennsylvania.
A map showing the location of the three historic lighthouses in Erie.

And while GPS satellites have made the Erie lighthouses less important for navigational purposes in modern times, they are no less beautiful now than they were when constructed more than a hundred years ago.

The North Pier Lighthouse as seen from the water on board the Lady Kate Boat Tour.
The North Pier Lighthouse as seen from the water on board the Lady Kate Boat Tour.

So what I’d like to share with you here are brief histories of each Erie lighthouse, photos of what you can expect to see if you visit them in person, and directions to each one.

The Erie Land Lighthouse sits in what is now a residential neighborhood on the banks of Presque Isle Bay in Erie.
The Erie Land Lighthouse sits in what is now a residential neighborhood on the banks of Presque Isle Bay in Erie.

The Presque Isle Lighthouse

The Presque Isle Lighthouse is the most famous and most photogenic of the three Erie lighthouses.

The Presque Isle Lighthouse - one of three historic lighthouses in Erie Pennsylvania.
The Presque Isle Lighthouse is one of three historic lighthouses in Erie.

Located on the north shore of Presque Isle State Park, the Presque Isle Lighthouse was completed in 1873.

Construction of the Presque Isle Lighthouse was completed in 1873.
Construction of the Presque Isle Lighthouse was completed in 1873.

Initially, the square brick tower was only 40 feet high, but an additional 17 feet-4 inches were added to the tower in 1896, to allow light from the lighthouse to project out further over Lake Erie.

Information about an 1896 addition to the Presque Isle Lighthouse.
Information about an 1896 addition to the Presque Isle Lighthouse.

 The top of the lighthouse is accessed via 78 steps with 6 landings on a spiral staircase.

The spiral stairs leading to the top of the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie Pennsylvania.
The spiral stairs leading to the top of the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie.

The view of Lake Erie from the top of the Presque Isle Lighthouse is outstanding!

A view of Lake Erie from the top of the Presque Isle Lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park.
A view of Lake Erie from the top of the Presque Isle Lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park.

The old oil lamp has been replaced by a modern LED light.

The modern LED lamp at the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie Pennsylvania.
The modern LED lamp at the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie.

Before roads were installed on Presque Isle, the lighthouse was resupplied by periodic visits from supply ships that docked at a nearby pier, the remnants of which you can still see jutting out into Lake Erie.

Looking out over the remains of the supply ship pier near the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie PA
Looking out over the remains of the supply ship pier near the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie.

The attached nine room dwelling served as home to the lighthouse keepers and their families until 1944, and it now serves as a lighthouse museum.

HIstory of the Fresnel Light explained at the Presque Isle Lighthouse.
History of the Fresnel Lens explained at the Presque Isle Lighthouse.

A Fresnel Lens (a device that magnified the power of an oil lamp) is one of the many interesting artifacts on display in the Presque Isle Lighthouse museum.

A Fresnel Light similar to the original light used in the Presque Isle Lighthouse.
A Fresnel Lens similar to the original liens used in the Presque Isle Lighthouse.

The Presque Isle Lighthouse is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The Presque Isle Lighthouse is one of the most photographed (and photogenic) spots at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.
The Presque Isle Lighthouse is one of the most photographed (and photogenic) spots at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.

Prices are as follows: $7 for the House/Museum Tour and Tower Climb, $3 for the House/Museum Tour Only, and FREE if you simply want to walk the grounds and visit the gift shop.

Rusty Glessner on top of the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie Pennsylvania.
The author on top of the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie.

The Presque Isle Lighthouse parking lot is located at GPS coordinates 42.165888, -80.113684, alongside Peninsula Drive on the north shore of Presque Isle State Park.

Looking out a stairwell window at the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie, PA.
Looking out a stairwell window at the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie.

The North Pier Lighthouse

The North Pier Lighthouse is located at the eastern end of Presque Isle State Park, and it marks the entrance to Presque Isle Bay.

The North Pier Lighthouse in Erie is now operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The North Pier Lighthouse in Erie is now operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The North Pier Lighthouse went into service in 1858, and it replaced a wooden lighthouse destroyed by a collision with a ship the prior year.

Historical plaque about the North Pier Lighthouse in Erie.
Historical plaque about the North Pier Lighthouse in Erie.

At 34 feet tall, the North Pier Lighthouse is the shortest of the three Erie lighthouses.

Fishermen walking towards the North Pier Lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.
Fishermen walking towards the North Pier Lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.

To reach the North Pier Lighthouse, park in the lot at GPS coordinates 42.154999, -80.073590, at the end of East Fisher Drive at Presque Isle State Park, then walk approximately 1,000 feet out the concrete pier to the lighthouse.

A large ship passing by the North Pier Lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park in Erie PA.
A large ship passing by the North Pier Lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park in Erie PA.

The Erie Land Lighthouse

The Erie Land Lighthouse, as the name implies, is located on the Erie waterfront, rather than on Presque Isle as the other two Erie lighthouses are.

The Erie Land Lighthouse is 49 feet tall.
The Erie Land Lighthouse is 49 feet tall.

The Erie Land Lighthouse stands 49 feet tall, and was in service from 1867 until 1899.

History of the Erie Land Lighthouse.
History of the Erie Land Lighthouse.

The Erie Land Lighthouse is located at GPS coordinates 42.143811, -80.062176, in a residential area next to a small park.

Doorway to the Erie Land Lighthouse.
Doorway to the Erie Land Lighthouse.

The street address for the Erie Land Lighthouse is 1200 Lighthouse St, Erie, PA 16507.

The current Erie Land Lighthouse was built in 1867.
The current Erie Land Lighthouse was built in 1867.

The Erie Land Lighthouse is now open to the public for tours every Saturday, Sunday, and first Tuesday of the month from 11 a.m until 3 p.m.. The grounds are accessible for visits daily.

Historical information on display at the Erie Land Lighthouse.
Historical information on display at the Erie Land Lighthouse.

For more information on touring the Erie Land Lighthouse, call (814) 833-3604.

Plaque next to the entrance to the Erie Land Lighthouse on the shore of Presque Isle Bay.
Plaque next to the entrance to the Erie Land Lighthouse on the shore of Presque Isle Bay.

Nearby Attractions

Exploring Presque Isle State Park in Erie will show you 10 of the best things to do at the most-visited state park in PA!

The best things to see and do at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Exploring the beaches along Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park.

Taking the Lady Kate Boat Tour at Presque Isle State Park is yet another way you can see all three lighthouses in Erie, but this time from a mariner’s perspective!

The North Pier Lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park, as viewed from the Lady Kate boat tour.
The North Pier Lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park, as viewed from the Lady Kate boat tour.

While it serves no navigational purposes, the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse in Forest County is the tallest functional lighthouse in Pennsylvania.

Standing in front of the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse in Tionesta PA
Standing in front of the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse in Tionesta.

Standing 75 feet tall along the banks of the Allegheny River in Tionesta, the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse (and surrounding Peace Park) is one of the best roadside attractions in northwestern Pennsylvania!

Exploring the Tionesta Lighthouse in Forest County Pennsylvania.
The Sherman Memorial Lighthouse in Tionesta, Forest County.

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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

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