When I think of the word ‘FRESH’, my mind instantly races to a little peninsula that juts into Lake Erie called, Presque Isle State Park. Having spent my summers there since I can remember, this state park I can say is one of the most enjoyable parks I have ever been to. Presque Isle State Park is home to not only 11 beaches, but also boasts over 15 trails, a marina, a lighthouse, bird watching, along with fishing and hunting.
Discovered by the French in the 1720s, the bit of land that stretched into the lake was named Presque Isle meaning “almost an island.” Due to the natural bay that Presque Isle created, the French established two military outposts from 1720 to 1759 on the peninsula. The posts served to protect the French from a potential English invasion. However, during the French and Indian War, the French abandoned the peninsula along with the forts, thus officially relinquishing their claims to the northwestern territory of Pennsylvania.
In the early 19th century, during the War of 1812, the peninsula became the home of an American naval base. It was at this base that the well known Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry trained and built his fleet. This fleet would later win multiple decisive battles on the lake, the most famous being the Battle of Lake Erie.
After the Battle of Lake Erie, the peninsula remained fairly untouched until 1921. It was at this time that the state of Pennsylvania acquired all of Presque Isle to turn it into a state park. Eventually roads, cabins, picnic pavilions, and houseboats began to pop up around the peninsula, inviting visitors from near and far for year round fun.
Postcard of Presque Isle, 1940s; Image Source: Terapeak
Today, the state park sees over 4 million annual visitors come to take in the beautiful views and join in on the fun. Whether one visits during the summer to catch a sand volleyball tournament or the winter to go snowshoeing and cross country skiing, the options are limitless. So wherever you are, get outside, catch some rays and remember to keep things fresh this summer!
Early Morning on the Peninsula, 2016
History of Presque Isle. (2013, September). Retrieved July 25, 2016, from https://www.c-span.org/video/?315281-1/history-presque-isle
Presque Isle. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2016, from http://nsgd.gso.uri.edu/penn/pennc01001/2. Presque Isle.pdf
Presque Isle State Park, Erie PA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2016, from http://www.presqueisle.org/