(Written with the assistance of Susan and Bill Orzell
of the Canal Society of New York State.)
On the eastern shore of picturesque Oneida Lake (the largest lake completely within New York State’s borders), just east of Syracuse in central New York, stands the Verona Beach Light. The light is a stone’s throw away from Sylvan Beach, New York. This quaint little town has, as its name might suggest, a public beach, and a more than 100-year-old amusement park, reminiscent of Coney Island. This area has drawn numerous celebrities over the years like Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli. Tourists flock here during the summer, renting out cottages for a vacation or just making a day of it.
Tucked away from this activity is the Verona Beach Light, also known as the Sylvan Beach Light. This light and its twins, on Frenchman’s Island near the western part of the lake and at the lake’s outlet on the far west end in Brewerton, were all built in 1915 by Lupfer & Remick Company of Buffalo, New York, to safeguard travel on the 22-mile long lake, which is part of the Barge Canal route. All three are active and are maintained by the New York State Canal Corporation.
The Verona Beach light is approximately 80 feet high with a square base. The base provides a foundation in addition to an entry area and fuel storage space. It is constructed of reinforced concrete with a wrought iron latticed railing that rings the lantern platform. That area may be reached by hiking up five stairways inside the conical tower. Slim rectangular windows illuminate the stairs. Some of the windows have been damaged by vandals; the ones on the base are now covered by steel grate plates. In 1927 the light was upgraded from a self-contained gas cylinder fuel system to commercial electric service to power the beacon.
As with numerous other lights, although sadly not for all, there is a group looking after the light. It is called the Verona Beach Lighthouse Association, and is made up of area residents and neighbors of Verona Beach, teamed up with the Town of Verona, New York. They hope to restore the light and put it to an additional use. Treasurer Doug Pratt says they recently received a small grant that allowed them to clear the brush and vegetation away to give boaters a clear view of the entire structure. Other plans they have simmering include replacing the rusting iron door and painting the structure. Although the light is currently an unpainted concrete tower, Pratt says it was white at one time and they would like to see it that way again. Also, the association would like to restore it so it can be used as an educational tool for area schoolchildren.
The group has more than 130 members and there’s always room for more. The areas of participation are labor force, mailings, fundraisers, business sponsorships and membership. Membership donation is a minimum $5 fee. Suggestions and ideas are appreciated.
For more information on the light and the association, write to:
Verona Beach Lighthouse Association
P.O. Box 202
Verona Beach, NY 13162
This story appeared in the
January 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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