Our Great Lake: Ohio Lighthouses
From lighthouse ruins on a small island to iconic structures that have stood sentry in our harbors for generations, these 14 historic landmarks help tell the story of our state.
1. Toledo Harbor Lighthouse
First illuminated in 1904, this 85-foot structure, located 5 miles from shore, replaced the lighthouse that once stood on an ever-shrinking Turtle Island. Built on a 20-foot-deep stone crib, the light was automated in 1966 and replaced with a more efficient beacon in 1985. toledoharborlighthouse.org
2. West Sister Island Lighthouse
One of the oldest surviving lighthouses on the Great Lakes, this mid-1840s structure is located midway between Toledo and Put-in-Bay. In 1975, the government designated 77 of the island’s 82 acres as wilderness and it is closed to the public, although the still-active beacon can be be seen from afar.
3. Port Clinton Lighthouse
Erected in 1896 at the mouth of the Portage River, this lighthouse operated for 56 years before it was decommissioned and moved to private property. In 2014, the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy restored the structure and built a replica Lightkeeper’s Boathouse nearby. portclintonlighthouse.org
4. Green Island Lighthouse
First lit in 1855, this lighthouse is now merely ruins that can be spotted from ferries and boats going to South Bass Island. A 1974 fire started by two fishermen ravaged the small island, leaving only the shell of the historic lighthouse. Today, Green Island serves as a bird sanctuary and is closed to the public.
5. South Bass Island Lighthouse
This lighthouse at the island’s southern tip is usually open for tours on select dates June through October. The structure was first lit in 1897 and opened to the public in 2007. A more unusual lighthouse design, the two-and-a-half story, red brick dwelling has an adjoining 45-foot-high tower. putinbay.com
6. Marblehead Lighthouse (above)
This beacon has the distinction of being the longest continually operating lighthouse on all of the Great Lakes. Built in 1821, the lighthouse became part of an Ohio State Parks site in 1998. A favorite of travelers, the lighthouse traditionally offers tours during summer months. marbleheadlighthouseohio.org
7. Cedar Point Lighthouse
Built in 1862 and used to aid navigation until 1909, this 38-foot lighthouse sits atop a six-room, limestone keeper’s house at the northern end of the Cedar Point Peninsula. The structure is now surrounded by Lighthouse Point: 120 luxury RV campsites and more than 150 cottages and cabins. cedarpoint.com
8. Huron Lighthouse
Located at the end of the Huron Pier, this automated lighthouse is maintained by the federal government. Although it’s smaller than some of the other beacons along the shore, visitors enjoy taking a closer look, and the pier is a popular spot for fishing and bird-watching. cityofhuron.org
9. Vermilion Lighthouse
This lighthouse is a replica of the one that first stood along the shore here beginning in 1877 before being disassembled and moved to a spot along Lake Ontario in 1929. After nearly 70 years without a lighthouse, this lakeside town built a new one next to Main Street Beach. cityofvermilion.com
10. Lorain Lighthouse (above)
Standing at the north end of Lorain’s West Harbor Breakwater, this beacon has been reproduced in countless photographs. Built in 1917, the lighthouse was set to be demolished in 1965 until a local group banded together to save the symbol of Lorain’s tie to Lake Erie. lorainlighthouse.com
11. Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse
A lighthouse was first established here in 1831, while the current structure was built in 1911. This active beacon, just off downtown Cleveland, is often captured in photos at the height of winter, when it’s frequently encased in ice.
12. Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse
This beacon was placed at the end of the breakwater in 1925 to replace the original Fairport Harbor Lighthouse that now houses a museum. Uninhabited since 1948, the structure is being renovated. fairportharborwestlighthouse.com
13. The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse
Fairport Harbor’s original lighthouse operated for 100 years, from 1825 to 1925. Today, the structure and its adjacent keeper’s house holds a marine museum and is open for private tours. fairportharborlighthouse.org
14. Ashtabula Lighthouse
This 1905 structure was added to 11 years later, and the lighthouse was manned by the U.S. Coast Guard until 1973, when it was automated. (At the time, it was the last manned light station on Lake Erie.) A restoration and preservation society now owns the property. ashtabulalighthouse.com
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