Buffalo Main Light
By Colt Edin & Dave Wobser

One of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes, the octagonal carved Queenston limestone tower of the Buffalo Main Light was erected in 1833. It is the second light to be erected on this location and replaced a lesser light that had been erected in 1818. That first beacon, and the old Erie Land light in Erie Pennsylvania, were the first lighthouses official erected on the Great Lakes.

The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 generated increased vessel traffic, and intensified local claims that the original light was too low and too dim. The existing light was completed in 1833. It sits on an unusual 689 foot octagonal base with a circular stone stairway. The original 57-foot tower received a Third Order Fresnel lens in 1856, and the tower was raised three feet in 1905. The focal plane was 76 feet above lake level. The watch room has deeply recessed windows and the tower is capped by an 8-sided iron lantern room.

In 1914, a damaged breakwater lighthouse, located nearby, was restored and the stone tower was decommissioned. The Third Order lens was transferred to the new breakwater light. When the breakwater lighthouse was torn down in 1961, the Buffalo Historical Society received the lens from the Coast Guard.

Buffalo Main is located at the mouth of the Buffalo River on USCG property, and may not be  open to the public. The grounds around the light have been developed into an outdoor museum that also includes one of two original Buffalo Breakwater Bottle Lights. From the grounds it also possible to see the ruins of the Horseshoe Reef Light just off shore, and the new Buffalo Breakwater Light at the end of the outer detached breakwater.

The Buffalo Main Light is open again to the public. As part of a $6 million renovation and consolidation of the USCG Station Buffalo, fencing has been added to separate the property and once again allow access to Lighthouse Point. A new sidewalk has been added with benches and picnic facilities to follow soon. The grounds surrounding the light had been closed since September 11, 2001.

The lights can also be viewed from Erie Marine Park, just  across the Buffalo River.

Photo by Dave Wobser
Click on image to enlarge

Photos by Brian Wrobleski

Location: Buffalo, New York
Date Built: 1833
Active: No

Open to public:

U.S. Coast Guard Base, 1 Fuhrmann Blvd. 716-947-9126
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