Presque Isle Lighthouse

Standing along the Lake Erie shore since 1873, this lighthouse in Erie, Pennsylvania, is brimming with maritime history. 

Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie, Pennsylvania (photo by Brian Berchtold)

Since 1873 when it was first lit, the Presque Isle Lighthouse has stood as a beacon for ships passing through the waters of Lake Erie along the Pennsylvania shore. Visitors who climb the brick tower’s 78 steps on a clear summer day are rewarded with expansive views of the lake, while ground-level attractions at the site open a door to exploring maritime history. 

Located within the city of Erie’s 3,200-acre Presque Isle State Park, the 57-foot-tall lighthouse is one of two active lighthouses in the county. Volunteer tour guides on the ground floor share the stories of three lighthouse keepers who looked after the tower and the property surrounding it. Charles Waldo, Andrew Shaw and Frank Huntington are three of nine keepers who stayed at Presque Isle and had the largest impact on the lighthouse during its long history. Huntington was the final lighthouse keeper, serving until 1944, about a year before the Coast Guard began overseeing the property and installed an electric beacon. Visitors can see how keepers and their families lived in the nine-room quarters and what the peninsula was like at the time. 

Tickets for the tour are available for purchase at the gift shop. Options include a self-guided tour and tower climb or an in-depth, 40-minute guided tour that explores the lighthouse and grounds and offers insight into the property’s history and how it has changed over the decades. Volunteer docents share information about commerce on Lake Erie, as well as a history of the Fresnel lenses that were once common in lighthouses such as this.

After a tour of the lighthouse and grounds, visitors can make use of the property’s picnic tables and follow a path down to the beach for lighthouse and Lake Erie views. The lighthouse is located near Mill Road Beach along Peninsula Drive at Presque Isle State Park. Erie, Pennsylvania 16505, 814/833-3604,