The Lake Erie shoreline is one of the most beautiful areas of New York and one of the most scenic and historic spots here is Barcelona Lighthouse in Chautauqua County.
Barcelona Lighthouse (also known as Portland Harbor Lighthouse) was constructed in 1829 on a hillside overlooking Portland Harbor. This natural harbor was a major shipping point during this time and stayed so until the Erie Canal and the railroads changed shipping on the lake.
Barcelona Lighthouse rises 40 feet from the top of this hill. However, despite its fairly short size, the light can be seen in Canada more than 25 miles across the lake.
In 1831, the lighthouse became the first public building in the country powered by natural gas. The gas was pumped in via a 2-mile pipeline from a nearby natural gas seam in the rock and provide a constant source of fuel for the light.
In 1859, as boat traffic continued to dwindle at the harbor, the Barcelona Lighthouse was shuttered. From 1872 until 2008, the lighthouse was privately owned. However, it is now under the ownership of the state of New York.
Under state ownership, Barcelona Lighthouse serves as a regional visitor center and features a small museum that highlights the history of the light and the area. While the light no longer provides navigational aid, it does still light up at night.
The former lightkeeper’s house features two downstairs rooms that are open to the public. While the room to the right is primarily a visitor center with information pamphlets for regional destinations, the room to the left tells the story of Barcelona Lighthouse.
This is primarily done through signage, though there are also several artifacts on display. The signage here is really well done and offers a great look at the history of the area.
Adjacent to the house is the lighthouse itself. While climbing it is sadly not allowed, the door is open, allowing visitors to peek inside the structure and look up at the impressive spiral staircase.
While the views from the top of the lighthouse would surely be spectacular, there are also nice views from the back porch of the home. From here, it’s possible to get a nice overview of Portland Harbor at the bottom of the hill and see out into Lake Erie.
After taking the time to visit Barcelona Lighthouse in Westfield, head down the hill and explore the harbor for a bit. Not only can you see some of the ships docked here, but there is also Westlake Public Beach. Though small, this beach is a nice place to enjoy the lakeshore for a bit.
At the end of the beach is Barcelona Falls, a small waterfall that falls directly into the lake or onto the beach (depending on the level of the lake).
It should also be noted that your best bet for parking is in the spaces at the harbor as there isn’t much room to park adjacent to the lighthouse.
Overall, Barcelona Lighthouse near Westfield, New York, is an interesting spot to visit along the shores of Lake Erie. While the lighthouse alone might not be worth a long detour to see, the number of other spots to visit and the beauty of the lake make this a nice historical destination if you are in the area.
Looking for more spots to visit nearby? Check out Panama Rocks, the Lucy-Desi Museum, Grape Discovery Center, and Mazza Chautauqua Cellars.
You can also check out the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Hours: Hours Vary.
**The tower is not presently open to the public.
Address: 8234 E Lake Rd