The Sodus Bay, six miles long and three miles wide, is the largest natural harbor in Lake Ontario. Native Americans called the shimmering Assorodus Bay meaning Silver Waters, and white settlers, drawn by the bay’s potential, arrived in the area in 1792.
In 1838, Lieutenant Charles T. Platt included the following comments about Sodus Bay in his report to the Secretary of the Treasury. “The excellent qualities of this port are too well known to the sailor to need further comment, and in time it must become a port of immense importance from a commercial point of view. Nature has given it the protection that should give it the most favorable consideration from the Government”.
The government had already paid enough attention to the port in the form of $4,500 in 1824 for a lighthouse, after William Rochester presented a petition to the House of Representatives in 1822 by “various inhabitants” of New York “praying for the erection of a lighthouse in or near the entrance to the Great Sodium Bay.
William Wickham received $68.75 for three acres of land in Sodus Point on November 20, 1824, and a one-and-a-half story house and a freestanding conical tower, both built of stone, were completed the following year. The two-bedroom house measured thirty-four by twenty feet and had a kitchen attached to its south end. The tower was forty feet high and housed a ten-lamp swivel light and the same number of nine-inch reflectors. Because of the cliff on which the tower stood, the light had a focal plane of sixty-six feet over Lake Ontario.