In 1827, Congress appropriated $5,000 to build a lighthouse at Portland Harbor (later renamed Barcelona), which was by then designated as an official Port of Entry. In 1829, the 40 foot tall, conical fieldstone tower lighthouse was entered into Federal Lighthouse Service and was used for navigational purposes until 1859 when it was decommissioned by the Federal Government. A local resident purchased the property in 1872 for $500 and it was privately owned until 2008 when it was purchased by New York State. Though it no longer has the original lens, it is still lit and visible today through an agreement with the Town of Westfield. The lighthouse and keepers cottage were put on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1972 (Ref#72000825) and the grounds are open to the public year around from dawn to dusk.
The lighthouse is constructed of native rough-cut fieldstone with a lime based mortar and a wooden spiral staircase anchored to the tower walls and a single wooden central support beam. There are 50 steps to the light platform. The base diameter is 22 feet and the wall thickness at the base is 3 feet.
Barcelona served as the early 1800's transition point for goods being transported from the Great Lakes, over the Portage Trail to Chautauqua Lake and eventually down the Mississippi River. For the first 18 months the beacon was lit with oil lamps, then in 1831, clever men in town found a way to cap a natural gas well bubbling up in Chautauqua Creek some three-quarters of a mile away and directed the gas to the lighthouse using wooden pipes and transitioned the lamps to natural gas - making it the first public building in the United States and the first lighthouse in the world to be lighted by natural gas. Thirteen reflector lamps were arranged in two tiers, the top six were spaced between the gaps of the bottom seven creating the effect of one continuous flame shining brightly all the way to Canada to guide vessels on the lake.
By the early 1850's railroads were a more economical and dependable way to move people and freight during America's period of westward expansion, so in 1859 the lighthouse was decommissioned by the Federal Government.
The keepers cottage now holds a museum and visitors center that is staffed by volunteers; while the grounds are open to the public year round from dawn to dusk, the visitors center and museum are only open in the summer from Memorial Day until Labor Day - Sunday through Friday from 10:00 to 4:00 and Saturday from 11:30 to 2:30. If you are there when the visitors center is open, you can go inside the lighthouse. The stairs are blocked off and you are not able to go to the top, but it is pretty interesting just to go inside and check out the construction and the large wooden spiral staircase.
NOTE - You DO NOT have to go into the museum or the lighthouse to get the answers for this virtual cache .... the answers can all be found from outside of the buildings.
To log a find on this virtual cache please message me the answers to the following questions before you log a find:
1. How many benches are there along the sidewalk between the posted parking coordinates and the lighthouse?
2. How many windows are in the stonework part of the lighthouse?
3. There is a plaque above the entrance door on the lighthouse - the plaque says: Barcelona Light House Erected in 1829 by the Federal Government Tablet placed by ......... message me the rest of what it says on the plaque.
As always, you are welcome to post photos of your visit.
Virtual Rewards 2.0 - 2019/2020
This Virtual Cache is part of a limited release of Virtuals created between June 4, 2019 and June 4, 2020. Only 4,000 cache owners were given the opportunity to hide a Virtual Cache. Learn more about Virtual Rewards 2.0 on the Geocaching Blog.