Fair Haven Range Lights, Little Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario, Fair Haven, New York
Built in 1872.
FAIRHAVEN RANGE LIGHTS
Location: Sterling, NY
Station Established: 1872
Year Current Tower First Lit:
Tower Shape: Square pyramidal tower at end of pier
Relationship to Other Structure:
Appropriation: $9,900 for keeper’s house
- The town of Fair Haven is located on Lake Ontario between Niagara Falls and Alexandria Bay. The town was originally a shipping port, but is now a resort community.
- Originally two lighthouses located in Fair Haven.
- The first light keeper at the Fair Haven Light Station was Andrew R. Crossier. He was appointed on June 12, 1872. He was succeeded by Theodore Vought in February 1887. Vought was replaced by Michael Fitzpatrick in 1908. He served until 1929 when he was replaced by Ralph B. Scobie. Osgar K. Elmer took post as lightkeeper on April 1, 1941. Elmer’s memories contained most of the history of the light station.
- When the lighthouse was first built at the end of the pier jutting out into Lake Ontario, it was realized that a keeper’s house was needed. The second floor of the tiny tower only contained a bunk, stove and oven. The Lighthouse Service built a residence on shore that was completed in August 1873. The cost for this residence was $9,900. The living quarters in the tower were originally intended for emergency overnight stays if bad weather occurred, and the keeper was stranded at the lighthouse. An elevated walk was eventually bolted to the pier with a steel band cable so that the keeper could get back to land, even during bad weather.
- A second tower, a range light, was built at the south end of the pier, and it is unclear exactly when it was erected.
- The keeper set the fog bell when visibility was less than 2 ½ miles. He had to crank up three round weights of approximately 60 pounds. The clock was set once the pulley caught the gears. The weights moved down the pulley shaft and the bell would ring three times every 30 seconds.
- When Osgar Elmer became keeper of Fair Haven Lighthouse in 1941, he had already had experience as an assistant keeper at the Galoo Island Lighthouse off Sackets Harbor, Oswego Lighthouse, and Sodus Point Lighthouse, both in New York. Elmer was a native of Fair Haven and had served some time in World War I, and returned home after suffering a shrapnel wound in the Argonne campaign. After returning home from the war, he served as a Life Guard at the Fair Haven State Park. One summer, he was credited with saving the lives of 29 swimmers.
- A skeleton lighthouse with a metal frame about 20 feet high was installed in October 1943, and it was at this time the position of Light Keeper was abolished. Elmer was transferred to Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse in New York.
- The lighthouses were torn down around 1945, however the keeper’s house still stands. It was sold to a private individual in 1965.
Hallie A. Sweeting, Historian for the Town of Sterling, put together the information included in this bio.
Researched and written by Jamie Smith, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.