Representatives from the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Committee and Chatfield Engineers met with Nathaniel Development Corporation, Orleans County Tourism, and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on January 8th to nail down final details and start date to rebuild the historic Oak Orchard Lighthouse at Oak Orchard Harbor on Lake Ontario. Nathaniel Development Corporation of Rochester, New York was awarded the project with a bid of $163,984.00.
Nathaniel expects to break ground mid-late February, with a final completion date of June 1st. This is good news for tourists & boaters, western New York, and the Orleans County community. Located on the Seaway Trail and within the Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor, Oak Orchard Harbor, well known for its first class fishery, will once again have a lighthouse to mark its harbor after 94 years. The original lighthouse, built in 1871 on the harbor’s west side on a pier almost 1000′ from shore, was abandoned by the Federal Government in 1905. It rapidly fell into disrepair and by 1916 a December squall swept away what remained of the structure.The tower light, thought not Coast Guard regulated, will approximate the intensity of a streetlight, and at 32′ tall, the historic replica will stand as a monument to help guide sea travelers to safe harbor. The original steel oil house will be returned to the harbor on permanent loan by the historic Cobblestone Museum in Gaines, New York, where it has been carefully housed for many years.
The National Archives in Washington, DC provided the historic documents that made this replication possible. The original light was of the 4th Order, the fresnel illuminating apparatus by Barbier, Benard & Turenne, of Paris, France, described as a ’360 degree lens lantern’…’fixed white’…with a ’5-day tank attachment’. The inside diameter of the central drum was 11-13/16”, with 3 prisms above and 3 prisms below. Though a replacement for the original light could not be operational in the lighthouse, the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum plans on seeking one to display in its future museum.
Personalized, engraved bricks to grace the circular walkway at the site are available for $50. The walkway will include a sitting area with local Medina sandstone benches crafted by George Graham, one of the last stone-cutters. The stone was salvaged from old sidewalks from the nearby historic Erie Canal Village of Albion. The walkway will eventually feature a compass rose of native Medina sandstone and blue and white granite. A Children’s Peace Garden providing food and cover for migratory birds is included in future planning.