Barcelona Lighthouse

Day two in Jamestown was absolutely gorgeous. I had already done everything I really wanted to do here and had learned of some things up the road that I wanted to see.

The sunshine and the open road were calling my name so I set out past vineyards and through small villages to see what’s what.

One of those attractions was this lighthouse in the village of Westfield, New York. Barcelona Lighthouse or Portland Harbor Light was built in 1829 and was the first natural gas lighthouse in the country. It was in Federal Lighthouse Service until 1859 when it was decommissioned and became privately owned.

It remained under private ownership until 2008. That’s when the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation acquired it. Today, this lighthouse is lit even though it isn’t used for navigational purposes. The keeper’s cottage is now a visitor center that’s open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

This is an incredible old structure. It’s fieldstone and has an old world quality about it. At just forty feet tall, it’s not the biggest lighthouse I’ve seen but it’s impressive anyway.

According to a history from the US Coast Guard, Congress appropriated $5,000 to construct a lighthouse on Portland Harbor. The land cost $50 and construction of the lighthouse and cottage was just over $3,400.

I don’t know a thing about most of the people who worked here but the first keeper was a deaf clergyman with several female dependents. He was compensated $350 each year for his service. Oh, to time travel and ask this guy about his life!

If you’re on Route 5 at Westfield, stop by and have a look around!

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