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Lighthouses

Of all of Ohio's lighthouses of yesterday, only 17 remain today on Lake Erie. Visit them on their external websites.

The oldest lighthouse on Lake Erie's shore is the Marblehead Lighthouse

It was built in 1821 on the Marblehead Peninsula and was the third built on Lake Erie. It is the oldest continuously operating light on the Great Lakes. The 65-foot tower is built from stone, and has hardly changed in its one-and-a-quarter century existence. In the late 1800s, the light was raised 10 feet from 55 to 65 feet with an additional window added, but otherwise it remains much the same as it did in 1821.

A fourth-order Fresnel lens allows it to display a flashing green light. The original Fresnel lens is on display at the Marblehead U.S. Coast Guard Station. Marblehead Lighthouse became the 73rd and newest state park in Ohio on May 15, 1998.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has maintained this lighthouse since 1972. Ownership was transferred from the Coast Guard in May 1998. The Coast Guard continues to operate and maintain the active beacon. The tower was renovated in 2001-2002 for $500,000.

  • Tower Height: 65 
  • Height of Focal Plane: 67
  • Characteristic and Range: Green flash every six seconds, visible for 11 nautical miles.
  • Description of Tower: Conical white limestone tower with red trim and red lantern.
  • Other Buildings: 1880 two-story wood frame keeper's house, barn, outhouse.
  • Date Automated: 1958
  • Optics: 1858: Third order Fresnel lens (now on display in the keeper's house); now modern plastic optic.
  • Current Use: Active aid to navigation, attraction in state park.
  • Open To Public? Yes. 

The keeper's dwelling is used as a museum by the Ottawa County Historical Society.

 

There are four lighthouses in Erie County.

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The Sandusky Harbor Pierhead Lighthouse (left) was built in 1935. It's location is the Sandusky Harbor. It was originally a square steel lantern on a steel skeletal tower. In the 1990's it was replaced with a new tower that was a white cylindrical tower with a central green horizontal band. This tower is an active aid to navigation and can be seen offshore from Cedar Point Amusement Park.

 

Cedar Point Lighthouse (right), not to be confused with the Sandusky Harbor Pierhead Light, is located on the Cedar Point Peninsula. From 1853 to 1904 this lighthouse served as a rear range light. This light is no longer operational.

 

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The Huron Harbor Pierhead Lighthouse (right) can be reached by walking along a rugged break wall.

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The Vermilion Lighthouse (left) is a replica of the original. The lighthouse was originally built in 1877 and torn down in 1929. This replica can be viewed up close.

 

 

 

The Other Lake Erie Lighthouses...

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The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse (right) guards the entrance to the shipping channel from Lake Erie to the Harbor of Toledo, Ohio. The light went into operation in 1904. This lighthouse is accessible only by boat, not visible from shore.

 

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The Old Port Clinton Pier lighthouse (left) is located on private land in Port Clinton, Ohio along the Portage River. This lighthouse has been moved from its original location and now serves as a "lighthouse" for a private marine. Only the top portion has been saved but you can view it up close.

 

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South Bass Island Lighthouse (right) was built in 1897. It is visible only by boat (on private land).

 

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Lorain West Breakwater Lighthouse (left) guards the harbor of Lorain. It was built in 1917 by the Army Corps of Engineers. It is presently owned by the Port of Lorain Foundation. Commonly referred to by the citizens of Lorain as the "Jewel of the Port." This lighthouse is visible from shore.

 

 

The Cleveland West Breakwater Light (right), which is only visible from shore, was built in 1911.

 

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The Cleveland West Breakwater and East Pierhead Lights are shown in the left picture together.

 

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Cleveland East Pierhead Light (right) - visible from shore. Built in 1911 on the long break wall which protects Cleveland Harbor from Lake Erie. Currently this lighthouse has a 300 milimeter, solar powered light.

 

 

Old Fairport Harbor Main Lighthouse (left) was built in 1825. Targeted for demolition, the locals appealed to save this light. The light is now listed on the National Register of Historic Structures. You can walk up to it; limited tours available.

 

 

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Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse (right) was built in 1925 to replace the Old Fairport Harbor Main Light. This light is visible from shore.

 

 

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The Ashtabula Lighthouse (left) was built in 1836. It was moved to its present location in 1916 and automated in 1976. It stands 40 feet above the lake. This lighthouse is only visible by boat.

 

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Conneaut Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse (right) was built in 1936. Located on a breakwater at the entrance to Conneaut Harbor, it can be viewed from Conneaut Township Park.

 

The Remains of Two Other Lighthouses...

 

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West Sister Island (left) lies eight miles off shore of the mainland. It was built in 1847, but has long since been abandoned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Turtle Island Light (right) was established in 1831 and abandoned in 1904 when the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse went into operation. Turtle Island played an important part in the war of 1812. The light is now in ruins.

 

 

Additional Lighthouse Resources

History of Canadian Lighthouses

Lighthouses transferred to Federal Government (1789-1820)

U.S. Coast Guard - Lighthouses & Light Stations

Lighthouse Preservation

Lighthouse Explorer Database

Lighthouses To Visit (National Park Service)