Barcelona Lighthouse . Portland Harbor . Lake Erie . New York . Watercolor . 9" x 12"
...this 40-foot tall, conical fieldstone tower, was constructed on a bluff overlooking Portland Harbor on Lake Erie, at the town of Westfield, New York in 1829; about the same time that Westfield and Portland Harbor were renamed "Barcelona". Interestingly, a nearby creek... aptly named "Burning Spring", because it was actually flammable... flowed over a fissure through which natural gas escaped. A wooden pipeline was subsequently constructed to carry this gas to the tower and up through the center to a ring of lamps in the lantern room. Thus, the Barcelona Lighthouse carries the historical distinction of being the first public building in the United States to use and burn natural gas for any kind of illumination. Due to the primitive and increasingly inconsistent capture and delivery of the gas, its use was greatly diminished after 1851 and the light was converted to an oil fired lamp. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in 1857. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1859. The plaster over stone house was doubled in size in 1926 and the original chimney, relocated and replaced by a red brick structure, some time later. The tower and adjacent fieldstone Keeper's House entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.