Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

Built in 1822, the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse is the oldest active surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario. At the time of its construction it was much closer to the shoreline.

According to

“In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson decreed that the seventy-mile stretch extending along the southern shore of Lake Ontario from Oak Orchard to Sodus Bay, would become an official port district, centered at the juncture of Genesee River and the lake. Ships entering the port were originally guided by either a torch on a large pilot tree or a lamp atop one of the region’s early hotels.

“Even with the lighthouse, the sandbars at the marshy river entrance proved troublesome to ship traffic. To remedy this, a pair of 2,600-foot-long piers, spaced about 360 feet apart, was built at the river’s mouth in 1829. As land filled in around the piers, the entrance to the river essentially shifted northward, away from the lighthouse, and other lighting options for the port were considered.”

Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

Folks always wonder why the Historic Society decided in 2016 to paint the tower white. In truth, it was historically whitewashed and the color had faded over time. We’re so used to seeing the bare stone it took many by surprise, as if they had ruined it! Rest assured, it’s more authentic this way.

Also fascinating is the story of how the Charlotte community rallied to save the lighthouse from destruction when the Federal Government abandoned it in the 1980s.

Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse Rochester NY

You can climb the tower

Be warned, it is a tight, 40-foot-high, spiral staircase, then you climb an 11-rung ladder, and, once to the top, you crawl through an opening in the ceiling to access the 12-foot-high lantern room. It’s toasty up there in the summer but view of Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, and Ontario Beach Park is amazing!

The tour guides are so knowledgeable and passionate about telling the light’s story. There is a very small museum located in the lighthouse keeper’s home.

Light house Trail and Overlook Project

Lighthouse Trail and Overlook Project

If you head around back you’ll find a trail that connects with Lake Ave. The light is also a stop along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

More information about Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

Cost: Admission fee

Located in Rochester

More information:

Ontario Beach Park

Lake Ontario Beach Park is located at the northernmost tip of the city of Rochester, and is bordered on the East by the mouth of the Genesee River.

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Rochester’s Fun Facts: Oldest, Original, Only, & More!

Rochester’s fun facts will inspire you to explore more. And these are just some of the historical tidbits that make Rochester special.

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9 Lake Ontario Lighthouses in New York

These lighthouses along Lake Ontario in New York are within a two-hour drive of Rochester. And where there’s a light there’s a sweeping view!

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Turning Point Park

Turning Point Park’s most striking feature is a 3,572 ft-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin.

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13 Places in the City to Enjoy the Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the Genesee River begins her journey through the city, racing over a dam and three waterfalls before emptying into Lake Ontario.

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The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail

The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail runs along the southern Lake Ontario shoreline, from Fort Niagara in Youngstown to Fort Ontario in Oswego.

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Have you visited the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!


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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.