MYSTERIES OF PRESQUE ISLE – -Facts, legends and historical tidbits you might not have known.

July 19, 2014 7:53 am Published by 1 Comment


   Horseshoe Pond

Horseshoe Pond and Houseboats– E. Ware


  1. It was in 1921 that Presque Isle became a State Park.
  2. The cost to the citizens of Erie for Presque Isle to become a State Park was $ 75,000, and was only in cash, as at that time pledges of payment were not permitted.  In today’s dollars that would be nearly $ 950,000.
  3. At one time wildflowers were so plentiful and varied on the park that back in the early 1900s, a tradition was born where many people would travel across the bay on Memorial Day each year to gather them.
  4. In May of 1926, the Commonwealth’s Governor and the Park and Harbor Commission outlawed the tradition of gathering wildflowers on the park due to the damage that was being done on the park.
  5. If you ever hear of someone talking about SCAT, they are politely discussing animal excrement.
  6. The Park has 13 miles of roads and over 21 miles of recreational trails which are paved and natural.

    1880 Presque Isle Lighthouse

    1880 Presque Lighthouse

  7. Since the park is unique in that it contains many different and distinctive habitats in one 3,200 acre location, a large number of Pennsylvania’s endangered, threatened and rare species of plants grow there.
  8. In 1833, a massive storm opened major break from the mainland which in less than two years expanded to over a mile wide, making Presque Isle a true island.  Presque Isle remained an island for 32 years until 1864 when the natural sand flow down Lake Erie closed the gap.
  9. When you are on the park and see signs that say HABITAT RESORATION AREA, it means this is where park staff and volunteers are fighting invasive plant species.
  10. The houseboats that today are moored in Horseshoe Pond are limited to only 24.  At one time due to new rules enacted, the houseboats could be found moored only in Misery Bay.   Before that, many houseboats could be found moored all along the city and Presque Isle shoreline.  Over the years houseboats became popular among new immigrants to the USA.   This was because most people living on them did so to avoid paying what they considered high real estate taxes to the City of Erie, and besides, at the time there were no rules on how they were built.
  11. At one point in history, for about six months after a boating accident, the North Pier Lighthouse consisted of a HANGING GALLOWS with two whale oil-burning lanterns hanging on it.
  12. Many of the species of birds that rest and/or nest at Gull Point on the park are never seen anywhere else in Pennsylvania.
  13. Thirteen types of amphibians and 19 reptile species live on Presque Isle.
  14.  In August of each year, over 300,000 Purple Martins, blackbirds, swallows and starlings come to the head waters of the bay.  Many times it is on the same night that they all decide to depart in waves that blacken the sky to begin their southern migratory journey.
  15. The area’s first navigation aid, a simple pier head light, was installed on a pier on the north side of the harbor channel in 1819.
  16. The dredging of the Erie Harbor and the necessary survey of the area after the War of 1812 and Admiral Perry’s victory over the British, was approved by Congress as the very first project of the Army Corps of Engineers under the Rivers and Harbor Act of 1824.
  17. The Presque Isle Marina is the home of over 500 pleasure boats.
  18. In 1926, the Perry Monument was erected on a small spit of land that was then know as Crystal Point.
  19. The Presque Isle Lagoons wer created by dredging together nine small interior ponds into a single unified body of water.   This was originally done to form what was to be the “World’s Largest Fish Hatchery.”   The State ran into legal and money problems with the project and it was never fully completed.
Lagoons on Presque Isle - - E. Ware

Today’s wonderful Lagoons – – E. Ware

20.  The small bay on the inland side of Perry Monument is known as Misery Bay.  It was at one time known as Little Bay.   It was named Misery Bay because of the two terrible winters Perry and his men spent there.  During this period there were many deaths and much sickness among the crews and workers at the site.

See you on the Park!!


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