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Tibbett's Point Lighthouse Statistics

Copyright 2004 Pat McAvoy-Costin

Location: The light is located near Cape Vincent, New York. This is where the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario meet.

The first light house at Tibbett’s Point was established in 1827. Tibbett’s Point is just outside of Cape Vincent, NY which is directly south of Wolfe Island, Ont. Cape Vincent is easily accessible to Wolfe Island by a 20 minute ferry ride. This ferry is the only international ferry operated between Canada and the US. At one time, there was a canal that cut across Wolfe Island between Barrett’s Bay and Bayfield Bay. The canal improved commerce transit time between Kingston and Cape Vincent. That canal is no longer operational.
The Tibbett’s Point lighthouse was originally built on land that was part of a plot of 600 acres that belonged to Capt. John TIBBETT of Troy, NY. In 1827, three of those acres surrounding the point were deeded to the US Government and a lighthouse was erected there.
The first light was a 58 foot stone tower. The light was fueled by whale oil at that time. In the early 1850’s, the lighthouse fuel was converted to lard oil. Whale oil was getting harder to come by.
In 1854, the original lighthouse was rebuilt. This new lighthouse was taller at 69 feet high and the structure is still operational today. This structure is a white, conical brick and stucco tower with black cast iron lantern. The new lighthouse was equipped with 50 candlepower oil lamps and a new Fresnel lens that was imported from France. This Fresnel lens is the only Fresnel still in operation on the St. Lawrence River today.

Tibbett’s Point Timeline

  • 1827, first lighthouse established at Tibbett’s Point.
  • 1854, lighthouse replaced with a taller, circular structure. This stands today.
  • In 1880 a 2.5 story keeper's house was added to the complex of lighthouse buildings.
  • In 1895, Tibbett’s light keeper David MONTONNA supervised the installation of a steam diaphone foghorn that in later years was converted to electric and then to diesel. Though still functional, the foghorn has been replaced by a much quieter radio beacon, apparently because Cape Vincent and Wolfe Island residents were routinely robbed of a peaceful night’s sleep by the regular foghorn blasts that shook their homes.
  • In 1907 a duplex keeper's house, an oil house, and a garage were added to the lighthouse’s building complex.
  • In 1930, electrically operated lights were installed. These lights utilized the power of 61 candles or candlepower. The light was designated as the fourth order and flashed white.
  • In 1939, the last regular keeper left the light and the US Coast Guard took over operation of the light.
  • In 1960, the lamp was updated again and is now visible for 16 miles.
  • In 1981, the light was automated. The Coast Guard closed up the living quarters. They now maintain the light from their base in Oswego, NY.
  • In 1984, the care takers house was opened as a Youth Hostel.
  • In 1988, the Tibbett’s Point Lighthouse Historical Society was formed to preserve and maintain the lighthouse, keeper’s house and grounds.
  • In 1991, the Town of Cape Vincent acquired the lighthouse from the U. S. Department of the Interior. The lighthouse living quarters became a hostel under the direction of Hostelling International (AYH). It operates in the summer months.
  • In 1994 the society built a visitors’ center and museum, which is owned by the Town of Tibbett’s Point.

The Islands: Lighthouses: Tibbett's Point Statistics
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