Dunkirk Pierhead Lighthouse

July 23, 2019

Dunkirk Pierhead Lighthouse (Dunkirk Breakwater Light), Dunkirk, New York


Location: On a pier at the channel end of the west pier, southwesterly side of the entrance to Dunkirk Harbor, southerly shore of Lake Erie, New York.
Historical Lights
Station Established: 1827.
Year Original Tower First Lit: 1829
Operational: No
Automated: No
Deactivated: Historical lights no longer existing, or relocated.
Tower Shape: Brick (original light), Wood (replacement light) 1895, Square skeletal pyramidal steel tower (1939).
Tower Height: Skeletal tower was 65 feet.
Foundation Material: Stone pier
Construction Material: Markings/Pattern: 1895 light: white tower with white lantern room; 1939 light: skeletal steel tower.
Original Lens: 1857 Sixth Order Fresnel lens
Fog Signal: No

Current Light:

Light Established: 1992
Operational: Yes
Tower Shape: White cylindrical tower with red horizontal band.
Tower Height:
Characteristic: Red flash every 6 seconds
Focal Plane: 35 feet.
Current use: Active aid to navigation.
Open to Public: Grounds only.
Ownership: U.S. Coast Guard

Historical Information:

  • In 1827 Congress appropriated funds for a breakwater at Dunkirk Harbor and a light to mark the pier’s end.
  • The piers first lighthouse was an octagonal tapering brick tower with brick cornice to support an octagonal gallery, and a polygonal lantern.
  • In 1895 the first tower was destroyed by ice. The next tower was a square pyramidal tower with clapboards, a square gallery, and polygonal lantern.
  • A catwalk was provided from the lighthouse to the shore for keeper access.
  • 1939 skeletal steel tower became the third light at location.
  • The skeletal steel tower was relocated to the Dunkirk Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum.
  • In 1992 the pierhead light was replaced with a beacon on a cylindrical tower.

Researched and written by Ed Shaw, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.