Skip to main content

Barcelona Lighthouse and Waterfront - New York

A lighthouse, a beach and a waterfall, all in the same place? Right in Western New York? Absolutely! Deep in the middle of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, not far from where the first Welch's plant was built in nearby Westfield, is Barcelona. Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Barcelona features a lighthouse that was constructed in 1828, which will likely be the first thing you notice. The lighthouse is owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and has a tourism office located in the old lighthouse keeper's house, but the lighthouse itself is not open to visitors due to structural issues. However, you can enjoy scenic views of the lighthouse itself and enjoy a nice picnic lunch with the lighthouse as the backdrop.

Some history on the Barcelona Lighthouse, or the Portland Harbor Lighthouse as it was originally known. In 1828, the United States Congress appropriated $5,000 to construct a lighthouse at Portland Harbor, which had just been designated an official port of entry. Portland was a small town located 20 miles west of Dunkirk, New York and 33 miles east of Erie, Pennsylvania and would later change its name to Barcelona. During the early 1800s, warehouses and wharves had been established in Portland to serve the small vessels transporting lumber, salt, flour, and fish to and from the port. The harbor provided a safe haven for sail and steam cargo vessels and a rest spot for passengers traveling between Erie and Buffalo. From Portland Harbor, portage was also available to Chautauqua Lake and on to the Allegheny River, for traffic on route to Pittsburgh.

A lot on a bluff overlooking Portland harbor was purchased from Wilhelm Willink, Wilhelm Willink the younger, and Cornelius Vallenhoven on July 10, 1828 for $50. In August 1828, a $2,700 contract for constructing the lighthouse and a dwelling for the lighthouse keeper was awarded to Judge Thomas B. Campbell. Using native, rough-split, fieldstone, Campbell constructed a 40 foot conical tower with a base diameter of 22 feet. Out of the $5,000 that had been appropriated, only $3,506.78 was used for construction, and the remaining money was carried over to the surplus fund.

The Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board for 1855 noted that Barcelona did not possess a proper harbor and that its lighthouse was not necessary even as a "lake coast light." This remark was likely due to the Great Gale of 1844, which destroyed a number of lakeside warehouses and wharves, including those located in Barcelona. Local officials had tried to restore the port to its former importance after that storm, but the opening of a railroad to nearby Westfield in 1852 doomed this effort. In, the Lighthouse Board discontinued Barcelona Lighthouse, citing as a reason the "mutations of commerce and changes of channels or harbors", certainly as a reference to the Great Gale of 1844. According to a clause in the original deed, the lighthouse property was to revert to the Holland Land Company if operation of the lighthouse was to become discontinued.

Though a light is still maintained in the tower, the Barcelona Lighthouse is no longer considered an aid to navigation. The tower and dwelling were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. In 2008, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation acquired the lighthouse..

The parking area near the lighthouse is also public access to a pier. For those who enjoy fishing or kayaking, this is where you can enjoy those sorts of activities. During my 2009 visit to Barcelona, I checked out the Sea Lion, which is a replica of a late 16th Century English three masted sailing ship. However, I did not check that out during my visit in 2017 since the Sea Lion has since been moved to the Henricus Historical Park in Chester, Virginia, but I spotted an old barge out in the middle of Barcelona Harbor. The Sea Lion has its own Facebook page that has a collection of photos and stories about the old sailing vessel.

From the parking area, you also have access to the beach. One of my visits to Barcelona was on Memorial Day, so even though it was a weekend where I spent more time hiking and chasing waterfalls, walking along the beach and dipping my toes into Lake Erie was certainly enjoyable. Speaking of chasing waterfalls, I accomplished that while in Barcelona too.

A short walk down the beach (about 1/4 mile or so) will get you to 18 foot tall Barcelona Falls, as well as some intermittent falls that pop up after a heavy rainfall. It had poured the night before, so it was a bonus for me. The waterfall is unique in the fact that it drains right into Lake Erie at the bottom of the waterfall. However, this part of the lake shore has its fair share of cliffs, so it's certainly worth taking note of that as well.

Barcelona Lighthouse
Sea Lion
Barcelona Lighthouse. You can see the picnic area to your left.


Barcelona Harbor


An old barge. I forget the name of this vessel.


Beach and cliffs.


Barcelona Falls


Barcelona Falls


Barcelona Falls


An intermittent waterfall located further down the shore.


Looking west towards the beach.


How to Get There:



Sources and Links:
Western New York Waterfall Survey - Barcelona Falls
LighthouseFriends.com - Barcelona (Portland Harbor) Lighthouse
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation - Barcelona Lighthouse
Westfield Republican - Sea Lion Moved to Historical Park


Update Log:
January 9, 2018 - Originally published to Unlocking New York
December 25, 2021 - Post moved from Unlocking New York to Gribblenation

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Old NY 10 and Goodman Mountain in the Adirondacks

  Old highway alignments come in all shapes and sizes, as well as taking some different forms after their lifespan of serving cars and trucks has ended. In the case of an old alignment of what was NY 10 south of Tupper Lake, New York, part of the old road was turned into part of a hiking trail to go up Goodman Mountain. At one time, the road passed by Goodman Mountain to the east, or Litchfield Mountain as it was known at the time. As the years passed, sometime around 1960, the part of NY 10 north of Speculator became part of NY 30, and remains that way today from Speculator, past Indian Lake and Tupper Lake and up to the Canadian Border. At one time, the highway was realigned to pass the Goodman Mountain to the west, leaving this stretch of road to be mostly forgotten and to be reclaimed by nature. During the summer of 2014, a 1.6 mile long hiking trail was approved the Adirondack Park Agency to be constructed to the summit of the 2,176 foot high Goodman Mountain. For the first 0.9 mi

Ghost Town Tuesday; Vineland, Florida; the town killed by Disney

Vineland is a small ghost town located in southwest Orange County, Florida near the junction of Florida State Road 535 and Interstate 4.  Vineland is somewhat unique due to it largely being squeezed out of existence by Lake Buena Vista which is the company town where Disney World is located. Vineland was founded in the late 1800s as Englewood.  The town name of Englewood changed to Orange Center in 1911 before finally assuming the name Vineland in 1924.  Much like the rest of Orange County the community of Vineland was centered around Citrus Grove.  In the case of Vineland said orange groves were centered around Ruby Lake. The end of Vineland came as the Disney Corporation began purchasing parcels of citrus grove land to build Lake Buena Vista.  Vineland fell into a sharp decline in the 1960s but the community managed to continue to exist to modern times.  Much of the street grid of Vineland still exists east of FL 535 but most of the original structures are either gone or falle

Oregon State Highway 58

  Also known as the Willamette Highway No. 18, the route of Oregon State Highway 58 (OR 58) stretches some 86 miles between US 97 north of Chemult and I-5 just outside of Eugene, Oregon. A main route between the Willamette Valley region of Oregon with Central Oregon and Crater Lake National Park, the highway follows the Middle Fork Willamette River and Salt Creek for much of its route as it makes its way to and across the Cascades, cresting at 5,138 feet above sea level at Willamette Pass. That is a gain of over 4,500 in elevation from where the highway begins at I-5. The upper reaches of OR 58 are dominated by the principal pinnacle that can sometimes be seen from the highway, Diamond Peak, and three nearby lakes, Crescent, Odell and Waldo (Oregon's second largest lake). OR 58 is chock full of rivers, creeks, mountain views, hot springs and waterfalls within a short distance from the highway. OR 58 was numbered as such by the Oregon State Highway Department in 1940. OR 58 is a del