Within the town of Hounsfield are Galloo and Little Galloo
Islands (early on spelled Galloup, more recently spelled Galoo),
comprised of 2,216.2 and 48.8 acres respectively. The islands mark
the outer edge of a group of islands and shoals that guard the entrance
to Sackets Harbor and the St. Lawrence River.
Galloo islands, along with Stony and Calf islands, were patented
by the state to Elisha
Camp on 15 February 1823, and were thereupon annexed
for jurisdictional purposes to the Town of Hounsfield. However,
by an act of the legislature, passed 21 April 1818, the jurisdiction
of a large portion of Galloo Island was ceded to the United States
for the purpose of a lighthouse.
island's first light was established in 1820. The present lighthouse
was erected in 1867. The conical stone tower is 55 feet high with
an attached 1 1/2 story keeper's dwelling. Both are built of gray
limestone quarried on the island. A square, iron oil house and steam
fog signal house stand nearby.
light was automated in 1963; it was added to the National
Register of Historic Places on 8 April 1983. As
shown in the following article, it was the first lighthouse erected
on Lake Ontario:
Palladium, Thurs., Oct. 5, 1820
From the Sackets
the night of the 4th inst. the Light House recently
erected on the south west point of the Galloo Island,
about 16 miles from this place, was for the first time
lighted. We are indebted to the politeness of J.M.
Canfield, Esq. Collector of this port, for
the following description:
base of the building is four feet above the surface
of the water, and is 26 feet in diameter, uniformly
graduated to one half of its diameter at the summit
height of 65 feet. The building is of stone. The lantern
is an octagon, containing 21 lights of 14 by 12 glass.
Within are 15 patent lamps with reflectors, 2 feet apart,
placed in two circles; giving an elevation to the light
of 66 feet above the water's surface, and at the distance
of 5 miles, gives athe appearance of an entire globe
of light. The light is distinctly visible at a distance
of 22 miles on the lake. Owing to the timber on the
island, the light cannot be discovered from this place,
but we understand this timber will soon be removed.
This is the first Light House ever erected on this lake.
credit is due to Mr. Ely
the contractor for the faithfulness with which the contract
has been executed. The selection of the site has been
most judiciously made, and the advantages resulting
to the commerce of the Lake, particularly of this port
must be great. The erection of such works of permanent
utility hear honorable testimony of the attention of
government to the interests of every portion of the
union; and, as a further evidence of this, we would
mention the appropriation of $5,000 for the erection
of another Light House at Genesee River, of which also
Mr. Canfield is
cannot her forbear the expression of a wish that an
end may be put to the infamous practice of violating
the revenue laws - the turplitude of which is greatly
enhanced by the consideration that it robs the government
of the means by which such establishments as tend in
an eminent degree to the safe navigation of the lake,
are erected and supported. The coercion and penalties
of laws have always been found inadequate to supress
this evil: the only remedy is in the public opinion;
and for the honor of our citizens on this frontier,
we sincerely hope that all persons will unite in giving
a tone to public sentiment on this subject, which, (in
the language of Mr. Jefferson), will deter even the
worthless part of community from pursuing the practice.
Generously donated by Richard
Today Galoo Island is privately owned and the nearby Coast
Guard station has been abandoned. The state Department of Environmental
Conservation owns 25 acres surrounding the former light station.
Nearly all the rest of the island, some 1937 acres, was purchased
at auction in August 1999 by PRK Holdings Group of Syracuse, making
it the second largest private island in the United States.
limestone tower and a 1-1/2 story limestone keeper's quarters went
on auction on 27 September 2000. The brick fog signal building,
and the cast iron oil house were not included in the sale. Bidding
started at $50,000 and was administered by the U.S. General Services
Administration Office of Surplus Property in Boston, Massachusetts.
successful bidder was Cara C. Dibnah
of Vallejo, California; her current plans are to restore and renovate
the buildings according to conditions and guidelines set forth by
the New York State Historic Preservation Office.