The Selkirk Lighthouse was completed in 1838, and was built by a team of several men, including Joseph Gibbs and Abner French who would secure the contract on the bid for the building of a dwelling house and beacon light on Lake Ontario at the junction of the Salmon River.
Most of the work was done by stone mason, Jabez Meacham, as well as John Box, a local blacksmith; who would form the wrought iron railings that make the birdcage lantern room. The Selkirk Lighthouse is one of only three lighthouses along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, and is one of the only three remaining lighthouses with the birdcage design. The light and the dwelling house would cost a total of $2,999.94 to build.
Selkirk Lighthouse. Photo credit us-lighthouses.com
Selkirk Lighthouse keepers:
- Lewis Conant, keeper from August 1838 – July 1849. Lewis was married to Phebe Conant, and they are both buried in the South Richland Cemetery in Pulaski, NY
- Lucius B. Cole, keeper from July 1849 – October 1854. Lucius was married to Phebe Case, and had one son together, Lucius C. Cole. Both Lucius B. and his wife Phebe are buried in Daysville Cemetery in Richland, NY.
- Charles M. Lewis, keeper from October 1854 – March 1857. Not much is known about Charles, but it is possible he is the Charles M. Lewis who was married to Martha M. Strong, and both are buried in New Haven Cemetery in New Haven, NY.
- Albert H. Weed, keeper from March 1857 – 1858. Albert seems to have never married and is buried in Pulaski Village Cemetery in Pulaski, NY.
By 1858 the economy in Selkirk had declined and there was no longer a need to have the light house in operation. It was deactivated the following year, making Albert H. Weed the last man to run the light house as it was intended.
After the light house was deactivated it would be used by the US Life Saving Service, which was a government agency that grew from humanitarian efforts and would save the lives of sailors and passengers who had become shipwrecked. It began in 1848 and by 1915 had merged with the US Revenue Cutter Service to form the US Coast Guard.
After it has been used by the US Life Saving Service, Lucius B. Cole, the lighthouses second keeper would reside in it with his family till his passing in 1890. For a short time after Cole’s death there was a care taker for the lighthouse, but when it became apparent that the light would never be reactivated the property was sold at public auction. Leopold Joh purchased the lighthouse on 16 October 1895, for $155.
Joh would first use the lighthouse as we his personal residence before he incorporated it into a hotel complex that he had started in 1899. Joh would not be proprietor of his hotel for long, and would suffer a massive heart attack and die 21 August 1907. His family, however, would continue to run the hotel after his death, till they found a suitable buyer in 1916; the Heckle family.
Leopold Joh. Photo credit – Pulaski, N.Y. and vicinity. archive.org. https://archive.org/details/cu31924028782063
The Heckle family would continue the business of the hotel, and expand upon its accommodations, turning it into a resort that would attract vacationers from as far away as New York City and Philadelphia. The Heckle family would own the lighthouse and resort till 1987, when it was purchased by Jim Walker.
Selkirk Lighthouse Postcard. Photo credit – cardcow.com. https://www.cardcow.com/104668/old-lighthouse-hotel-selkirk-pulaski-new-york/
Today the light house can be rented out for overnight stays. There are also three cottages that can also be rented. The marina offers a wealth of activities for your stay. You can click on the link provided for more information.
Penberthy, Bryan. “Salmon River (Selkirk) Lighthouse Pulaski, New York – 1838 (1838**).” Us-lighthouses.com. 2014. https://www.us-lighthouses.com/displaypage.php?LightID=113.
“Salmon River Lighthouse & Marina.” Salmonriverlighthousemarina.com. http://www.salmonriverlighthousemarina.com/index.html.
“Salmon River (Selkirk), NY.” Lighthousefriends.com. 2017. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=309.
Pulaski, N.Y. and Vicinity – Historical Souvenir Series. Series 13. Cornell University Library – No copyright – not date of publication. was purchased in 1902 as a gift, per inscription inside front few pages.
“South Richland Cemetery, Also known as: Willis Cemetery.” Findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&GSln=conant&GSiman=1&GScid=66350&CRid=66350&pt=South%20Richland%20Cemetery&.
“New Haven Cemetery.” Findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&GSln=Lewis&GSfn=Charles&GSmn=M.&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSst=36&GScnty=2015&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=104520709&CRid=196594&df=all&.