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Do the Boat & Lighthouse Tour – a Perfect Summer Outing !

posted by Deb Denny at 2019-08-01 20:50:00

From June to September, the city of Oswego and the H. Lee White Maritime Museum offers history buffs, photographers, lighthouse lovers and everyone in between a once-in-a-lifetime experience – the opportunity to cruise Oswego’s scenic harbor on an open pontoon boat to explore the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse, which still serves today as an active aid-to-navigation for Lake Ontario sailors.

Built in 1934, the lighthouse is set nearly one-half mile offshore into Lake Ontario at the end of the west-arrowhead breakwater. This feat required special engineering in order for it to stand up to the high winds, heavy surf and destructive winter ice common to the Great lake.

Today, through the collaborative efforts of the city and the museum as well as a dedicated team of volunteers working tirelessly to restore the iconic structure, the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse has been brought to life once more. While restoration is slated for completion in 2020, it has already seen a majority of its improvements and is now open for tours, offering the unique opportunity to glimpse into the past of Oswego’s important maritime history and culture.

While winter and spring provide wonderful opportunities for breathtaking photography of the break wall and lighthouse from shore, summer brings it all one step closer when Oswego visitors and residents alike can step aboard a pontoon boat (weather permitting) to enjoy the short but picturesque jaunt to the historic lighthouse.

Your adventure begins at the protected end of the international marina dock on West First St. where colorful kayaks can also be rented from Oswego Expeditions. Chartered by a licensed coast guard captain, the pontoon boat provides a smooth ride across Oswego Harbor while a knowledgeable tour guide points out fascinating nautical attractions and historical landmarks.

Entering the harbor, you pass by the H. Lee White Maritime Museum, which houses one of the finest collections of Maritime Objects and Historical collections in the Great Lakes. The historic LT5 Tugboat, which served as a transport ship for American Troops to the Shores of Normandy on D-Day, 1944, is moored here and can be toured as well.

Upon arrival at the lighthouse, you are opened up to an entirely different viewpoint of the world where you are surrounded by the opening to Oswego Harbor and the Great Lake Ontario picturesquely dotted with colorful sailboats in the distance.

Once inside, there is a short climb of stairs to the top of the lighthouse and, as you look out over the 180+ degree horizon of the Great Lake, you can almost imagine seeing a slight curvature of the earth. The wide observation deck around the lighthouse beckons visitors to top off their unique experience by taking a panoramic collection of stunning photos, capturing what sailors have seen for centuries yet from the lighthouse’s own perspective.

In days past, the light of a 4th-order Fresnel lens and a radio communications station were situated to help safely guide ships across the lake, into the harbor and safely away from the rocky coastline. In 1969, lantern’s Fresnel lens was removed when the lighthouse was automated – ending the era of light-keeping as a profession in Oswego. The original lens was put on display at the H. Lee White Museum in 1995 and the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

The $20 per person ticket for this tour also includes entry to the museum, so after journeying back to the Port City, why not stop in to explore its collection of thousands of artifacts, images, archival records, and original artworks telling over 400 years of regional maritime history.

Please note: The pontoon boat is licensed to accommodate six passengers and tours run roughly about two hours (weather permitting) including the boat ride, with volunteers to help passengers embark and disembark. It is not recommended for children younger than five. Call ahead to confirm run times @ 315-342-0408; and for more information and a complete list of rules - please visit: https://hleewhitemarinemuseum.com/pages.php?page=32-history-tours.

Photo Credits: DiscoverUpstateNY tourism
- 4th order Fresnel Lens and lighthouse historian Ted Panayotoff: courtesy H Lee White Maritime Museum

posted at: 2019-08-01 20:50:00, last updated: 2020-09-14 21:55:17

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