Lake Erie Lighthouses

Popular Lake Erie Lighthouses in Ohio:
Fairport MarbleheadSouth Bass ToledoVermilion

Although lighthouses can be found in many countries, they have reached a cult-like status here in the US. American lighthouses have been pictured on postcards, travel brochures, T-shirts, family room wallpaper, and even US postage stamps, and their iconic shape has made its way into many graphic designs. Lighthouses are usually considered a New England attraction, but there are lighthouses in other states, including those bordering the Great Lakes. There are more inland lighthouses along the shores of the Great Lakes than most countries have along their ocean coastline.

Ohio, which contains part of Lake Erie, is home to several interesting lighthouses, keeper’s homes, and maritime museums. You can find them by following the 293-mile Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail, which stretches from Conneaut in the northeast to Toledo in the northwest. This is not too surprising when you consider that Erie is the oldest, shallowest, most treacherous, and most unpredictable of the Great Lakes.

The best-known (or at least the most photographed) of the Ohio lighthouses is Marblehead Lighthouse, formerly the Sandusky Bay Light. Located in Marblehead Lighthouse State Park at the mouth of the Sandusky Bay entrance to Lake Erie, it was named after the village of Marblehead, which provided the 65-foot-high tower’s limestone building blocks. The tower opened in 1822 and is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. During the summer, the tower is a popular tourist attraction, with hundreds of visitors browsing through the exhibits of lighthouse history in the Keeper’s House, taking guided tours, climbing up the spiral staircase, taking pictures from the tower balcony, and picnicking on the grounds.

It’s a lovely area that has served as an attractive backdrop for weddings, vow renewals, proposals, and other special events over the years. However, no reservations can be made for such use, and the grounds are always open to the public. Visitors who want to make a day of it can also enjoy nearby East Harbor State Park, which offers many activities and amenities, including camping, swimming, boating, disc golfing, and fishing.

In addition, lighthouse fans can also hop a boat over to South Bass Island (home of Put-In-Bay) to visit the South Bass Island Lighthouse, which includes two-and-a-half stories of living space and an attached 60-foot tower. This lighthouse is owned by The Ohio State University, which conducts summer tours of the tower for a fee. The living space is sometimes used to house visiting OSU speakers and dignitaries and is not open to the public. A small air-conditioned space upstairs can be rented for meetings and various events, with light refreshments or catered meals.

OSU also owns Gibraltar Island, a 6.5-acre island off the north side of South Bass Island. In Gibraltar is OSU’s Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory, the nation’s oldest freshwater biological field station. Tours of the island and facilities are offered for a fee in the summer.

The northeastern shore of Ohio has its share of lighthouses, too, but most are not open to the public and can only be seen from a distance. However, the Fairport Harbor Village Lighthouse and Marine Museum in Fairport Harbor is worth a visit. The 60-foot-high sandstone and brick tower was built in 1871 at the mouth of the Grand River and has a spiral staircase that takes visitors right to the top. Visitors can also visit the adjacent museum (once the light keeper’s house) to learn more about lighthouses and Ohio history from the museum’s collection of navigational instruments, lighthouse lenses, ship models, Native American relics, and salt-mining and iron ore displays.

This is an excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler written by Betty Winslow.

Share this with:

Thrilling Attractions

Axe Throwing  │  Boston Mills Brandywine Ski Resort  │  Cedar Point Amusement Park  │  Ghostly Manor Thrill Center  │  Ghoul Runnings Kayak Adventures │ High Voltage Indoor Karting  │  iFly Indoor Skydiving  │  Kings Island Amusement Park  │  Lazer Kraze Laser Tag  │  LEGOLAND Discovery Center  │  Memphis Kiddie Park  │  Paintball Country  │  Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center  │  Scene 75 Entertainment Centers  │  R Adventure Park │  Richland Carrousel Park  │  Stricker’s Grove Amusement Park  │  Skate The Ribbon  │ Tobogganing │  Wake Nation Cincinnati 

Share this with:

More Things to do This Month in Ohio

Don’t miss our FREE monthly issues.
Click for FREE Subscription at the top of the page.

Or see everything going on in your region of Ohio

Share this with: