Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Fresnel Feud Brewing and Stewing

blogcharlotte Beam me up, Scotty before this Beacon Battle begins!
Two Preservation Organizations have started to feud over the ownership of a Fourth-order Fresnel lens. Both the Light-keepers of the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society and the Ohio Lorain Lighthouse Foundation are NOT seeing the Light!

Since 1984, the Fresnel lens has been mounted in the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse located in Rochester, New York after the Coast Guard discovered the lens in a Cleveland, Ohio warehouse. The Fourth-order Fresnel lens was originally installed in the Lorain Lighthouse and was scheduled to be destroyed.

For 23 years, the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society has polished and maintained the historic Fresnel gem. Yet, the Ohio Lorain Lighthouse Foundation claims their Fresnel lens is on Coast Guard loan to New York until January 13, 2011. And naturally, the New York Society claims there is no documentation for a loan of their valuable lens, a engineering gem of prisms mounted in a brass framework to focus and increase a light beam for miles over the water.

Fred Amato, a member of the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society, claims “It’s locked up right now, and we’re willing to get our cannons out to defend our possession of it.”

Sounds like New York and Ohio have ignited a modern Lighthouse Fresnel lens Revolution! Where is Thomas Jefferson when we need him to pen the Declaration of Independent Lighthouses?
Wonder which side the French will support?
Hey Ed, please tell the combatants what they will win in this Fresnel Family Feud? A priceless coveted fragile Fresnel Lens, a historical treasure that revolutionized American Lighthouses in the 1850s!

Hopefully, Lighthouse levity will allow these Lighthouse Preservationists to work together to determine a equitable solution?

A Background summary of both Lighthouses:
For information about the Lorain Lighthouse, please visit “A Taste of History, Wine on the Water” post.

The Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse was built in 1822 to guide navigation entering the Genesee River en-route to the Port Of Rochester. The 40-foot high octagonal rubble stone Lighthouse exhibited a Fixed White Light illuminated by 10 Argand whale oil lamps 85-feet above Lake Ontario to a visible range of 10-miles.

Sandbars forming at the marshy mouth of the river also sandbagged shipping. Two 2,500-feet long piers were built to form a 360-feet wide shipping channel at the mouth of the river in 1829. The beach began growing from the sand deposits along the piers causing the Lighthouse to “travel” farther from the lake every year!

To solve the effective Light range of the Lighthouse, a secondary Light was built at the end of the west pier in 1838. Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse was refitted with a Fourth-order Fresnel lens to extend the visible light range to 20-miles in 1853.

Despite the protest of lake captains who claimed the Lighthouse on the bluff was more visible, the Lighthouse Service deactivated the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse in 1881 and removed the Fourth-order Fresnel lens and Lantern Room in 1884. The Fresnel lens was relocated and installed in the west pier Beacon.

In 1965, the Coast Guard was planning to demolish the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse until the students of the Charlotte High school organized a campaign to save their Lighthouse! In 1982, the Coast Guard leased the Lighthouse and Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society began Lighthouse Tours in 1984 after the Edison Tech High School students built a replica Lantern Room.

On June 18, 1984, the restored Lighthouse was relit for the sesquicentennial celebration. The Lighthouse deed was transferred to Monroe County in 1994 and the Lighthouse was repaired and repointed in 1997 to strengthen the Lighthouse fortress from the (verbal?) attacks of the the Ohio Lorain Lighthouse Foundation in 2007!

blue_starMap Location:
For Map Directions, please visit the Google Map of Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse is one of many sites along the Seaway Trail. For tours, please visit the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society web-site.

Related News Story:
Charlotte Lighthouse –Who Gets the Lens?

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About Debbie Dolphin

Lighthouse author and photographer living in New England

Posted on November 9, 2007, in Humor News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi All Seeing Eye!

    I would be amazed if they See Eye to Eye! 😉
    This long post outlined the events leading up to their Fresnel Feud.

    Outside of a joint custody agreement, both Lighthouse societies have a lot to gain or lose considering the average cost of a original Fourth-order Fresnel lens was $4,000,
    the estimated repair cost for a existing Fourth-order Fresnel lens is $132,000 (a 3,300% increase), and
    the estimated cost to create a new Fourth-order Fresnel lens is $2 million (a 50,000% increase)!

    This priceless Fresnel gem is one item that even MasterCard can’t buy!

  2. Can’t we all just get along? 😉

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