Two giant chimneys on the shore of Lake Ontario at the northeast edge of campus have long served as a guide for SUNY Oswego students navigating by land toward their lakeshore campus, as have four smaller ones, which have through the years been referred to by alumni as “Huey, Dewey, and Louie” with the last one given a variety of names, including Frank. Today, these chimneys belong to NRG company, an oil-burning power plant. The stacks date from 1939.
Oswego Harbor Power LLC, an NRG company, owns and operates the Steam Generating Station, which contains fossil fuel steam electric generating units that were constructed between 1938 and 1956. Initially, the steam electric generating units were powered by coal, but in 1972, the units were converted to be powered by oil. Today, the facility runs only in response to increased demand, running only about 3 percent of the time. But the blinking lights of the towers remain, and they can still be seen from miles away, showing students the way “home” to campus.
Just east of the steam plant, the Oswego Harbor remains active as a major commercial and industrial port on the Great Lakes, as well as a harbor of refuge. Commodities shipped or received include petroleum, cement, chemicals, ores and minerals. It also holds its own as a recreational haven, with more than $7 million in recreational economic dollars generated, and that’s not just on Harborfest weekend.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, there are more than 535 boat slips and 29 charter boats that are based out of Oswego Harbor. The harbor supports in the range of 500 jobs. SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley is a strong supporter of college-community partnerships that spur economic development in the Port of Oswego, including a cooperative education program with SUNY Oswego’s Agricultural Testing and Analysis Laboratory. Students grade and test New York state-grown grains—corn, soybeans and wheat—at the port prior to the exchange between farmer and buyer, and do higher-level analysis in the college’s lab.
The Port of Oswego Authority was one of six ports to receive the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award for 2015, for increases in international cargo shipping.