The Pennsylvania Old Presque Isle Lighthouse should not be confused with the lighthouse of the same name in Michigan. Situated on Presque Isle Bay on Lake Area, it is actually one of two lighthouses in the Presque Isle State Park, a National Natural Landmark. The lighthouse and its surroundings draw visitors from near and far for its beauty and location. The area has had a colorful history in the past and remains a popular spot today.
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Presque Isle History
Presque Isle was named by the French, and it means “just about” which would translate to “just about an island”… meaning it’s a peninsula. Originally settled by the Native Americans, it eventually fell into the hands of the French who built a fort in the area and military posts. They were ousted during the French and Indian War and the British took over next with a fort of their own. During Pontiac’s Rebellion, it was briefly in the hands of the Native Americans once more. Eventually, it would come into American control where they would build a fort of their own.
Presque Isle actually had a part in defeating the British during the War of 1812. Eventually, it would become a hot spot for the shipping industry with the increase of boat traffic on Lake Erie. Two lighthouses were built, the Erie Harbor North Pier Light and the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. Today, there is an active Coast Guard Station on Presque Isle.
The lighthouse may be the initial draw for many tourists, but the surrounding park also attracts visitors with its numerous habitats and explosion of plants and animals, many of which happen to be endangered. There are marshes, ponds, forest, sand dunes, and ridges and each habitat supports different life forms.
There’s Even Birdwatching!
When it comes to birdwatching, this is definitely a place to keep one’s eye on with so many exciting and rare species. Visitors could plan to picnic all day, sitting quietly and watching the birds soar. There are many birds to see, including the endangered Rusty Blackbird and Cerulean Warbler. Gulls and terns abound. There is no shortage of beautiful birds for people to enjoy while visiting the park.
After a trip to the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, travelers can see the Gull Point State Park Natural Area. Anyone with a scientific turn of mind can study the natural systems on land and water. In addition, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center is located in the park with educational displays, classrooms and laboratories for research.
There is much to see and do when taking a trip to the Pennsylvania Old Presque Isle Lighthouse with hiking, boating, biking, and fishing are only a few of the pastimes that people can enjoy. The surrounding beaches are the only surf swimming areas in Pennsylvania. Visitors should take advantage of all Presque Isle has to offer.