Erie is the one corner of the state we’d never visited, thus it became our first major destination for this trip.
Our first stop was the Erie Land Lighthouse.
The Erie Land Light, also known as the Old Presque Isle Light, is a lighthouse on the shore of Lake Erie. Overlooking the lake it is one of the three lighthouses in Erie, along with the Presque Isle Light and North Pier Light (unfortunately the road to the North Pier Light was closed).
The lighthouse was originally constructed in 1818 becoming one of the first to be built by on the Great Lakes. The tower was replaced in 1851 for the first time; in 1858, due to its poor foundations and soil quality, it sank into the ground.
The current structure was built in 1867 and remained in service until 1880. It was reactivated five years later before being permanently decommissioned in 1899. Both the lenses and lantern were eventually removed.
Sixty-nine narrow steps took us to the top of the lighthouse
where we had spectacular views,
including the North Pier Light
and Commodore Perry Memorial
across the harbor.
Our next stop was at the Erie Maritime Museum
whose highlight is the US Brig Niagara from which Commodore Perry commanded a US fleet which defeated the British in a naval battle in 1813, during the War of 1812.
As with many US cities, Erie was able to obtain a section of steel from the World Trade Center for a 9-11 Memorial, which is located just outside Erie Library which is adjacent to the Museum.
Unfortunately, although the Niagara was “in port” at the museum’s pier, it was covered and not open for tours, in part due to COVID precautions.
However, there were scale models
replicas of the top two section of the main mast
a life-size diorama of the 2 canons and cannonades the ship carried.
The museum also has an amazing collection of other Great Lakes naval memorabilia.
US Navy Emblem
There was also an exhibit on Fresnel lenses, which since their invention in the early 19th century, have been used in lighthouses throughout the world up to and including the present time.
We then took a detour from our planned route to investigate two gold roofs on what we, correctly assumed were the upper structures of an Orthodox Church.
Russian Old Rite Orthodox Church
We next headed for Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie. As Pennsylvania’s only “seashore,” Presque Isle offers its 4,000,000 annual visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating.
Presque Isle is a day-use park that provides year-round recreational opportunities. Overnight accommodations are available nearby.
The neck of the peninsula is attached to the mainland four miles west of downtown Erie. The park creates Presque Isle Bay, a wide and deep harbor for the city of Erie. The bay attracts many pleasure boats and worldwide freighters — making Erie an important Great Lakes shipping port.
A National Natural Landmark, Presque Isle is a favorite spot for migrating birds. Because of the many unique habitats, Presque Isle contains a greater number of the state’s endangered, threatened, and rare species than any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania.
The road network snakes around the perimeter of the peninsula and for most of its length is lined with an arching canopy of trees.
Easy water access is never more than a quarter mile away. We found a pull off and enjoyed a scenic lunch.
A memorial honoring Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, which we’d seen from a distance earlier, appears to be the tallest structure in the park.
The Perry Monument is a 101 foot structure located at the eastern end of Presque Isle. Standing next to Misery Bay, named by the men of Perry’s naval squadron, who wintered here 1813-1814 after the crucial Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813.
The Monument is dedicated to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who was a prominent naval squadron leader during the War of 1812. Oliver Hazard Perry, along with Presque Isle, played a vital role in the victory over the British in the War. Perry strategically used the peninsula’s bay as a natural protection for his men, and a place to construct 6 of the 9 ships in his fleet. Using this location would force the enemy to travel all the way around the peninsula, leaving the enemy vulnerable.
Continuing our tour of Presque Isle, we suddenly spotted
Stopping, we were blown away with the colorful beach umbrellas
and the number and types of kites soaring high above Sunset Beach
Our final stop was the 68′ Presque Isle Light on the outside of the peninsula overlooking Lake Erie.
Here we climbed the 78 steps
to the top where we were rewarded with some wonderful views.
Heading back to our campground, we stopped to check out some murals,
one of the many “frog” statues scattered throughout the city
and a sculpture at a local middle school entitled “Timeless Possibilities“.
Finally, at a traffic light, a message from the motorcycle in front of us was crystal clear!