Is there a list of Historical Markers located in Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands?

The Ohio Historical Markers program encompasses 1,479 unique markers that tell the state’s history as written by its communities. There are more than 40 markers in the Lake Erie Shores & Islands alone. Markers are erected by local community sponsors in partnership with the Ohio History Connection and describe the people, places, things, and events of Ohio’s past. Here are a few of the most notable in the region, along with their official descriptions.

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

#16-22 The Huron Playhouse – Ohio’s oldest continuing summer theatre, the Huron Playhouse has been housed at McCormick Middle School for its entire history. Dr. Frederick G. Walsh (1915-1999) of the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Speech Department founded the theatre in 1949. Huron met Walsh’s expectations for an attractive site for the playhouse, and Huron Schools Superintendent R.L. McCormick (1904-1978) offered the use of this school. The curtain opened on the first Huron Playhouse production, Norman Krasna’s hit Broadway comedy John Loves Mary, on June 29, 1949.

#15-62 Lakeside – “The Chautauqua of Lake Erie” – Established in 1873, Lakeside is a pioneer of the American Chautauqua Movement, one of the greatest revival movements in United States history which flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Founded by the Methodist Church, Lakeside is one of the few existing Chautauqua communities that remain and thrive today.

#6-62 The Keeper’s House – Built in 1822, this native limestone structure was the home of Benajah Wolcott, first keeper of the Marblehead Lighthouse (originally called the Sandusky Bay Light), and his second wife, Rachel Miller Wolcott. Benajah maintained the lighthouse from 1822 until his death ten years later. After Benajah’s passing the U.S. Government appointed Rachel as the keeper, making her the first female lighthouse keeper on the Great Lakes. The building is the oldest known residence still standing in Ottawa County and is a fine example of a “hall-and-parlor house,” an early American home design.

#20-22 Birthplace of Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) – One of America’s most prolific and important inventors, Thomas Alva Edison was born in this house in 1847. Designed by his father, Samuel Edison, a shingle maker by trade, this small gabled brick cottage was built in 1841. Though the Edisons moved to Port Huron, Michigan, in 1854, when he was seven, Edison cherished the memories of his early boyhood here and acquired the home from his sister’s family in 1906. Edison’s daughter Madeleine Edison Sloane opened the home to the public as a memorial to the great inventor in 1947, the centennial of his birth. It became a registered National Historic Landmark in 1965.

Oak Harbor
#12-62 Magee Marsh Wildlife Area: A Feature of the Great Black Swamp – A dense swamp forest roughly the size of the state of Connecticut once stretched across this region of Ohio and Indiana. A remnant of ancient Lake Maumee, this dense, soggy flatland supported abundant waterfowl and wildlife, but blocked travel and settlement and remained largely uninhabited until it was cleared and drained for agriculture between 1860 and 1885. This marsh and other scatter remnants are all that remain of the Great Black Swamp. Managed for a variety of wetland wildlife, Magee is one of the premier bird watching sites in North America, with more than 300 species.

Port Clinton #2-62 Johnson’s Island – In 1861 the United States Army established a prisoner of war camp on Johnson’s Island, approximately 1 mile south of this point. The camp, which housed captured Confederate officers, was maintained until 1865 when it was dismantled. The camp cemetery contains the graves of 206 men who died as a result of disease, wounds, or by execution while incarcerated.

Put-in-Bay #9-62 South Bass Island Light – Constructed and first lit in 1897, the South Bass Island Light was in continuous operation until 1962 when the U. S. Coast Guard built an automated light tower to replace it. Significant for its contribution to transportation and commerce on Lake Erie, the South Bass Island Light was built to safely guide vessels through the crowded South Passage. Although many light stations were constructed with a dwelling as a separate structure, the keeper’s dwelling of the South Bass Light was attached to the 60-foot tower. The dwelling was designed in the Queen Anne style with red brick laid in Flemish bond. Outbuildings, a barn and oil house, were built in 1899. In 1967, The Ohio State University acquired the property for support of the F. T. Stone Laboratory programs for research, education, and outreach. South Bass Island Light was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Sandusky #17-22 Cedar Point – Cedar Point became a popular beach resort in the late 1870s, when visitors traveled to the peninsula by steamboat from Sandusky. The Grand Pavilion (1888), the oldest building in the park, dates from this era. Promoter George Boeckling formed the Cedar Point Pleasure Resort Company in 1897 and vastly expanded the resort’s attractions. During the first decade of the 1900s, he built the lagoons, an amusement circle, and several hotels, including the landmark Breakers in 1905. The Coliseum, opened in 1906, became the centerpiece of the park and hosted many of the famous big bands through the Depression and World War II years. In the late 1950s, Cedar Point began its transformation into a modern amusement park.

You can read more about Ohio’s historical markers and find a complete list of them at A lot of visitors make a hobby out of seeking out historical markers during their vacations. Which ones do you want to check out?


“Don’t Give Up The Ship” – Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial

Wind, water and history converge as an international flotilla of tall ships sails into Lake Erie’s western basin this August. Get an up close look at these ships in ports including Catawba Island, Kelleys Island, Middle Bass Island, Port Clinton and Put-in-Bay. These communities will host festivals featuring tall ship tours, day sails, musical entertainment, historical re-enactors and more.
Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial
The events culminate with a full-scale re-enactment of the Battle of Lake Erie at the actual battle site near Put-in-Bay.

The following are just a few events planned for the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial Celebration. Click here to view a full list of events.

May 25, 2013
Salute to the Troops: Honoring War of 1812 Casualties
Perry’s Victory Visitor Center Lawn, Put-in-Bay
419.285.2184, 11:30 am
The National Park Service honors our nation’s service men and women with music, games and inspiring speakers on the back lawn of Perry’s Victory Visitor Center.

August 29-September 2, 2013
Tall Ships Challenge® Great Lakes 2013
Various locations in Ohio and Canada
Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the major military events of the War of 1812 that took place in the Great Lakes. Tall Ships will dock in the communities of Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Kelleys Island, Middle Bass Island, Put-in-Bay, and in several Canadian ports including Leamington, Kingsville, Amhurstburg, and Windsor. There will be a Tall Ship Bicentennial Parade on Sept 1 and a re-enactment of the Battle of Lake Erie featuring the Tall Ships on Sept 2.

August 30-September 1, 2013
Reenactment Village at Put-in-Bay
DeRivera Park, Downtown Put-in-Bay
419.285.2832, 9 am-5 pm
Featuring historical demonstrations, education, and crafts as well as food and craft vendors.

September 2, 2013
Battle of Lake Erie-Battle Reenactment
440.349.3210, 12-2 pm
Experience history first hand in one of the largest celebrations ever to take place on Lake Erie. Join the crew or join the fleet. Take part in the battle as a tall ship crew member or as part of the fleet aboard your own vessel.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial: The Restoration Process

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial was established to honor those who fought “The Battle of Lake Erie,” during the War of 1812. This decisive naval victory ensured modern-day Ohio and Michigan would remain a part of the United States of America. The memorial also celebrates lasting peace between the United States, Great Britain and Canada.

This 352-foot tall column is the nation’s third tallest memorial structure, after the Washington Monument and the St. Louis Arch. It has towered over South Bass Island for nearly 100 years; however, in the summer of 2006 a piece of granite weighing about 500 pounds fell from the column onto the memorial’s upper plaza. The granite fell from the southeast side of the observation deck, broke into smaller pieces and shattered the plaza floor. Fortunately, no one was hurt. According to the National Park Service website, the monument was closed for 64 days until the initial damage could be studied and a fence erected to ensure the public’s safety. That fall, a more detailed inspection was conducted by taking core samples of the monument’s concrete substructure. The damage caused by 94-years of harsh Lake Erie winters and the freeze-thaw of water that penetrated into small cracks had taken a toll on this remarkable structure. It was then determined that Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial was in need of major repair and restoration.

The memorial’s observation deck has been closed to public access since September 2009. Repairs continue to be made to the deck, the walls and the drainage system. Future restoration plans include improvements to the exterior of the monument and the grounds below. Restoration is to be complete by May 2012, in time for the Bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812.

While restoration takes place, rangers will give “construction tours.” Meanwhile, the adjacent visitor’s center will be opening on March 25, 2011, weekends only, until April 22, 2011 when it will be open seven days a week. The hours are 10 am – 5 pm. Many special events will be held on the memorial grounds throughout 2011, including an Earth Day celebration & Junior Ranger Jamboree, Commodore Perry Education Days, Fourth of July celebrations with music and fireworks, Historical Weekend and more. For additional information, please call 419.285.2184.

How Can I Save on Area Attractions While Visiting the Lake Erie Shores & Islands?

Savings are available throughout the Lake Erie Shores & Islands region with our Shore Savings Card. The card can be downloaded by clicking on the Shore Savings tab, receive one when you request your official Travel Planner or pick one up at one of our local Welcome Centers. A list of participants and their current offers can also be found by clicking on the Shore Savings tab. It is easy to use; just present your card and save! Be sure to check back often, as offers are subject to change and new offers can be added at any time.

Additional discounts are often available from attraction websites. For example, Miller Ferries to Put-in-Bay offers more than 60 “print and save” coupons on their website. Be sure to link to area attractions from the site — you never know what you might find!

Another way to save is through value-added lodging packages. Packages often include bonus amenities or area attraction tickets with your overnight stay. Value-added lodging packages are listed on our website by clicking on Where to Stay and choosing Lodging Packages.

Winter Activities

The Berlin Fruit Box Company
51 Mechanic St. (off SR 61), Berlin Heights
419.588.2081 or 888.905.1858
See the “Tribute to American Basketry” commemorative collection! This sixth generation, family-run company makes Maple and American Black Cherry baskets for the home, plus farm baskets. Complete production on site, including log veneering. Tours take approximately one hour.
Schedule: Open year-round, Mon-Fri 9am-3pm for tours, except major holidays. Call ahead to make tour arrangements.
Rates: Free, special group rates may apply

Castalia State Fish Hatchery
7018 Homegardner Rd., Castalia
The hatchery raises steelhead and rainbow trout and offers self-guided tours of 90-acres of serene grounds including outdoor walkways, a half-mile section of Cold Creek and a “Blue Hole” aquifer. The area also provides excellent bird watching opportunities.
Schedule: Open year-round, Mon-Fri 8am-3pm. Scheduled group tours available.
Rates: Free

Castaway Bay Waterpark Resort
2001 Cleveland Rd. (US 6), Sandusky
This 38,000 sq. ft. indoor waterpark resort is loaded with water activities for all ages. Surrounded by a tropical setting of palm trees, huts and inland lagoons, you’ll find ten water slides, a wave pool, a toddlers’ play pool, an action-packed play area and a 35-ft. high water roller coaster. Arcade, rejuvenating spa, restaurants, retail shops and a fitness center.
Schedule: Call to inquire about day pass availability.
Rates: $29/person for the day and $15/person after 5pm. Children 2 and under are free.

Cedar Downs / Cedar Lanes
At The Quality Inn & Suites/Rain Waterpark, 1935 Cleveland Rd. (US 6), Sandusky
419.627.8573 or 800.654.3364
Ohio’s first and only off-track gaming and entertainment establishment where you can bet on live horse races from tracks around the country. Food, cocktails, bowling, billiards, laser tag and arcade games available. Private party facilities are available for groups.
Schedule: Year-round, daily 12pm until the last race at 12am
Bowling open daily 4pm-12am
Rates: Betters’ choice

Crystal Traditions of Tiffin
145 Madison St., Tiffin
419.448.4286 or 888.298.7236
Tour the facility and enjoy watching glass blowing and crystal hand cutting demonstrations given by artisans with many years of experience. Quality crystal giftware, awards and trophies available.
Schedule: Showroom and outlet open year-round, Mon-Fri 10am-5pm and Sat 10am-2pm. Tours by appointment Mon-Fri 10am-5pm. Closed major holidays.
Rates: Free

Edison Birthplace
9 Edison Dr., Milan
Birthplace of Thomas Alva Edison, America’s most prolific inventor. He held 1,093 American patents. Guided tours through his office and seven rooms last 1 hour. The last tour of the day begins at 3:30 pm.
Schedule: Feb, Mar, Nov & Dec, Wed-Sun 1-4pm. Closed Mondays, major holidays and January. Groups by appointment only.
Rates: Adult: $7, Senior: $6, Child (6-12 yrs): $4 (Rates subject to change)

Eleutheros Cooke House
1415 Columbus Ave., Sandusky
419.627.0640 or 800.940.9478
Sandusky is known for its collection of limestone buildings, including this Greek Revival. It includes a ruby and cranberry glass collection, antique furnishings, garden, greenhouse, and gift shop.
Schedule: Apr-Dec. 31, Tue-Fri 12-3pm, Sat 10am-1pm; Jan-Mar by appointment only. Special appointments welcome. Closed Sun, Mon and major holidays.
Rates: Donations accepted; group rates available by appointment.

Ferguson Gallery
5890 East Harbor Rd. (SR 163), Marblehead
Home of master glass cutter Cary Ferguson and his son. See free demonstrations of glass cutting and blowing. Shop offers unique blend of art, crystal, antiques, nautical décor, sterling silver & fashion jewelry.
Schedule: Mon-Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri-Sat 10am- 8pm, Sun 11am-5pm
After Christmas Fri-Sun 10am-5pm.
Rates: Free

Firelands Winery
917 Bardshar Rd., Sandusky
419.625.5474 or 800.548.9643
Year-round winery with wine tasting, tours, gift shop and picnic area. Schedule: Jun-Sept, Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm, Oct-May, Mon-Sat 9am-5pm.

Follett House Museum
404 Wayne St., Sandusky
Discover Sandusky’s past! Sandusky Library’s local history museum, with four floors of exhibits featuring Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison Camp, Cedar Point and many other artifacts that shaped local life.
Schedule: Apr, Oct-Dec, Sat 12-4pm, Sun 1-4pm; Jan-Mar by appointment only.
Rates: Free (donations accepted)

Ghostly Manor Thrill Center
3319 Milan Rd. (US 250), Sandusky
Four attractions – one location. Feel the chills and thrills of the top 10 rated Ghostly Manor Haunted House, XD-3D Theater, food and Halloween store on premises.
Schedule: Ghostly Manor: Nov-Apr, Fri & Sat 7-10pm. Open anytime for groups (call for details)
Rates: Ghostly Manor Adult (10 yrs and up): $11, Child (not recommended for children under age 9) XD 3D Theatre: $6/one movie, $11/two movies. $15/three movies (must be 40” tall) Skateworld: $5/admission, $1/quad skate rental, $3/roller blades or scooter rental.

Glacial Grooves
Kelleys Island
The Glacial Grooves on the north side of Kelleys Island are the largest easily accessible such grooves in the world. They were scoured into solid limestone bedrock about 18,000 years ago by the great ice sheet which covered part of North America. A trough 400 ft. long, 35 ft. wide and up to 10 ft. deep remains today. The ice, probably hundreds of feet thick, flowed from the north in what is now the Lake Erie basin. The Devonian limestone containing the grooves contains marine fossils that are 350 to 400 million years old. Many other grooves were quarried away during the last century. Fencing now protects this National Natural Landmark. A walkway and stairs permit visitors a good view of the grooves. To get to Kelleys Island, check the schedule for the Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line.
Schedule: Open year-round, daylight hours
Rates: Free

Hermes Vineyard
6413 S. Hayes Ave. (SR 4), Sandusky
Sample excellent wines overlooking Hermes’ picturesque vineyard, and tour the historic barn and gift shop.
Schedule: Open year-round. Call for hours.

Jamie’s Flea Market
SR 113 (1/2 mile west of SR 58), South Amherst
The largest year-round flea market in Northeast Ohio with 200 indoor dealers, and up to 400 outside spaces available (weather permitting). Annual Christmas special held the first Saturday in December.
Schedule: Every Wed & Sat 8am-4pm
Rates: Free admission and parking

Johnson’s Island Confederate Officers Prison Cemetery
Gaydos Rd. (off Bayshore Rd.), Johnson’s Island
Nearly 9,000 Confederate soldiers and civilians were once housed at the prison. Visit the cemetery which honors those who remain.
Schedule: Year-round, daily dawn-dusk
Rates: $2 toll required to cross bridge

Kalahari Waterpark
7000 Kalahari Dr. (off US 250)
419.433.7600 or 877.KALAHARI (525.2427)
You’ll feel A World Away ® while enjoying the authentic African theme of the Kalahari. You can surf or boogie board 365-days-a-year in warmth and comfort at the Kalahari – where everything is under one roof. There’s something for everyone from ages one to 100. No matter what the weather is like outside, you can splish-splash all day long indoors at the Kalahari. Gift shops, spa, mini golf, Pottery Pizzazz and restaurants.
Schedule: Call to inquire about day pass availability.
Rates: Mon-Thurs $39/day, $29/after 5pm; Fri-Sun $42/day, $32/after 5pm

Lazer Runner
At the Quality Inn & Suites
1935 Cleveland Rd., Sandusky
Play laser tag in this indoor futuristic maze! Complete with fog, music and lighting. Fun for all ages.
Schedule: Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12-6pm. Open all holidays
Rates: Please call for rates and birthday packages; group rates available

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park
110 Lighthouse Dr., Rocky Point, on the tip of the Marblehead Peninsula
419.734.4424 ext. 2
Marblehead Lighthouse, one of Lake Erie’s best known and most-photographed landmarks. This state park offers beautiful scenery, picnic grounds, and during the summer season, lighthouse and museum tours. Tour the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes.
Schedule: Marblehead State Park is open dawn-dusk, however tours of the lighthouse are finished for the season.
Rates: Free

Maritime Museum of Sandusky
125 Meigs St., Sandusky
Interprets the maritime history of the area, including boat building, recreational boating, passenger boats, ice harvesting, shipwrecks, wetlands, commercial shipping & the boats of the UGRR. Gift shop.
Schedule: Sept-May, Fri- Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12-4pm. Closed all major Holidays
Rates: Adult: $4, Child (12 & under), Senior (62 + yrs): $3, Family: $8, Group: $3

Merry-Go-Round Museum
301 Jackson St. (at corner of US 6 & Jackson sts.), Sandusky
Affordable family fun. Take a ride on an antique carousel (included in admission price), see an exhibit of carousel art with an actual carving shop and view always-changing exhibits.
Schedule: Sept 8-Dec 27: Wed-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm; Feb, Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm. Closed January and major holidays.
Rates: Adult: $5, Senior (60 + yrs): $4, Child (4-14 yrs): $3. Group rates available.

Ohio Veteran’s Home Museum & Hall of Fame
At Ohio Veterans Home, I.F. Mack Bldg., 3416 Columbus Ave., Sandusky
419.625.2454 ext. 1447
Military history museum featuring memorabilia from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam and The War on Terrorism (Iraq and Afghanistan). There is also an exhibit on Johnson’s Island and its role in the Civil War.
Schedule: Year-round, Sat-Wed 10am-4pm. Closed major holidays.
Rates: Donations accepted

Pottery Pizzazz
In Kalahari Resort, 7000 Kalahari Dr., (off US 250), Sandusky
419.433.7128 or 877.KALAHARI
Create your own masterpiece. Select your own pottery, get artistic with over 80 colors and get it fire glazed! You don’t need to be a hotel guest, just walk in!
Hours: Sun-Thurs 9am-9pm, Fri & Sat 9am-10pm; hours subject to change
Rates: Varies

Quarry Hill Winery and Orchard
8403 Mason Rd., Berlin Heights
Offers tasting and sales of fine fruits and quality wines. Groups welcome, bus parking available.
Schedule: Jul-Dec 24, Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm, Sun 11am-5pm
Rates: .50¢/sample, $4/glass, bottle prices vary

Rain Waterpark
In the Quality Inn & Suites, 1935 Cleveland Rd., (US 6), Sandusky
Rain offers a smaller, affordable setting with thrill slides and water play. It features a 50 ft. tower with two gigantic slides and a play structure with additional water activities and slides. Guests will frequently be showered with rain. The complex also includes a 32-lane bowling center, laser tag, arcade, restaurant and off-track horse racing. Passes are available.
Schedule: Fri 6-11pm, Sat 9am-1pm and 6-11pm and Sun: 9am-4pm.
Call to inquire about day pass availability
Rates: $19.99/person

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
Spiegel Grove, Fremont
419.332.2081 or 800.998.7737
The White House’s original gates mark the entrance to the nation’s FIRST presidential center. Visit the 31-room mansion, 3-story Museum/Library and tomb of 19th President Rutherford B. Hayes. On exhibit are original family furnishings and Civil War and 19th century artifacts. Museum and gift shop on premises. Special events throughout the year, call for details.
Schedule: Year-round, Tue-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun & Federal holidays 12-5pm. Closed major holidays. Library closed Sun, Mon and holidays
Rates: Home OR Museum: Adult: $7.50, Senior/AAA: $6.50, Child (6-12yrs): $3. Group rates available. Home & Museum: Adult: $13, Senior/AAA: $12, Child (6 – 12 yrs): $5

Sandusky Cultural Center
2130 Hayes Ave. (SR 4), Sandusky
Gallery offers works of art in a large variety of media and styles by contemporary artists from around the world. Call for exhibit details and hours.
Schedule: Open during scheduled exhibits. Call for dates. Closed Sat, holidays & snow days.
Rates: Donations accepted

Sandusky Skateworld
3319 Milan Rd. (US 250), Sandusky (a part of Ghostly Manor)
Sandusky Skateworld is also known as one of the 4-in-1 attractions, part of Ghostly Manor Thrill Center.
Skateworld is now offering Totally Toddler Days, Christian Skate Night, Kasper roller hockey and more.
Schedule: Please check the website for hours.
Rates: $5/all ages, Roller Skates (Quad) Rental $1, Roller Blades & Scooter Rental $3

Sandusky State Theatre
107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky
419.626.1950 or 877.626.1950
1,500 seat national landmark is a top entertainment destination. See nationally recognized performances, Broadway shows, movies and more! Also available for rentals.
Schedule: Year-round. Call or check website for schedule
Rates: Varies

Sidney Frohman Planetarium
2130 Hayes Ave. (SR 4), Sandusky
Quality hour-long programming about the stars and planets.
Schedule: Mid-Oct-mid-May, Sun at 2pm
Rates: Free

Sorrowful Mother Shrine
4106 SR 269, Bellevue
A place of pilgrimage since 1850 in honor of our Sorrowful Mother Mary. Offers daily mass, devotions, events and forty points of interest including a historical and outdoor chapel on 120 acres. Pilgrimage center and cafeteria.
Schedule: Mass: daily at 11am, Sat 4pm, & Sun 9am. Grounds open dawn – dusk. Gift Shop open year-round. Closed major holidays. Cafeteria open May-Oct
Rates: Donations accepted

Tiffin Glass Museum & Shoppe
25 – 27 S. Washington St., Tiffin
Offers tours and retail sales of Tiffin Glass and other fine glassware and collectibles. See a display of original Tiffin Glass produced at the Tiffin Glass Factory from 1889 – 1980.
Schedule: Year-round, Tue-Sat 1-5pm. Other times by appointment. Closed major holidays.
Rates: Donations accepted

6732 E. Harbor Rd. (SR 163 E.), Marblehead
Ohio’s largest operating multi-gauge model railroad display with full scenery and lighting open to the public. The gift shop has many fine model railroad products such as, wooden Thomas, scenery, cars, books and novelty gifts.
Schedule: Open year-round, Mon-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm. Memorial Day-Labor Day, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm
Rates: Adult: $7, Senior: $6, Child (4 – 11 yrs): $5
Season Passes available; Adult: $35, Senior: $30, Child: $25

Underground Railroad Tour (Self-Guided)
4424 Milan Rd. (US 250), Sandusky
419.625.2984 or 800.255.3743
Because of its location on Lake Erie, the number of railroad lines, the Huron and Vermilion Rivers and the Milan Canal, Erie County was a leading Great Lakes Port and a major terminal on the Underground Railroad. Since historic records on this topic are rare and many sites have been destroyed, only a few of the remaining sites and people influential in this movement have been highlighted in a brochure that offers a narrative as you take the self-drive tour throughout Erie County. Brochures and maps can be obtained from the Lake Erie Shores & Islands® Welcome Center.
Schedule: Year-round
Rates: Free

Ice fishing is also a popular winter activity in the Lake Erie Shores & Islands region. Interested in ice fishing? Check out a list of charters/fishing guides here. For more information on ice fishing in Ohio, click here.

In Search of Lighthouses: Are there any in your area?

Cedar Point Lighthouse
Unknown to most Cedar Point visitors, a lighthouse was established at the amusement park in 1839 to mark the eastern approach to Sandusky Bay and Sandusky Harbor. The lighthouse standing today at the tip of the Cedar Point Peninsula, was built in 1862. The light, which was used for navigation until 1909, is located atop the lighthouse keeper’s 6-room limestone home. After the lights were discontinued, the Lighthouse Service and later the Coast Guard continued to maintain a presence at the site which then served as a buoy depot, a radio beacon station, and later a search and rescue boat station. A large red brick duplex was built in the 1920’s to house the families of the Commander and Executive Officers. This building remains intact, as does the boathouse/buoy shed. The old lighthouse was used as quarters and galley for enlisted personnel. The boat station was finally closed in 1975 and duties were transferred to the Marblehead Coast Guard station across the bay. In 1990, Cedar Point Amusement Park purchased the northwest corner of the peninsula from the United States Coast Guard. The lighthouse was restored in 2001 when Cedar Point introduced the cottages and cabins of Lighthouse Point.

Huron Harbor Lighthouse
The modern white steel light marks the entrance to the Huron Harbor. Its 72-foot-tall tower was built in 1936 on a pier that extends from the shore. F.P. Dillon and W.G. Will built two similar lighthouses the same year. Huron’s “sister” lighthouse stands in Conneaut. The light was formerly operated by remote control from a brick station on shore, and it had a lantern at the top. It was automated in 1972. The Huron Lighthouse is maintained by the United States Coast Guard. Although the lighthouse is not open for tours, the mile long pier is open to the public and is also a great fishing spot!

Marblehead Lighthouse
Built in 1821, the Marblehead Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating light on the Great Lakes. The base of the tower was 25 feet in diameter, with walls five feet thick. It narrows to 12 feet at the top with walls that are two feet thick. Each night, the lighthouse keeper lit 13 whale oil lamps that were the original light fixture. The whale oil lamps were eventually replaced in 1858 by the light from a single kerosene lantern magnified by a Fresnel lens, which created a highly visible, fixed white light. With the turn of the century, new technology arose as well as structural changes including an additional 15 feet to the height of the tower. A clock-like mechanism was installed to rotate the lantern, creating the appearance of a brilliant flash of light every 10 seconds. In order to keep the lantern rotating, the lighthouse keeper was required to crank the weights every three hours through the night. An improved Fresnel lens with prism surfaces created an even more brilliant beacon. In 1923, an electric light replaced the kerosene lantern, improving the intensity of the signal. The lighthouse was automated in 1958.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has maintained the property surrounding the lighthouse since 1972 and accepted ownership of the Marblehead Lighthouse tower in 1998. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to operate and maintain the lighthouse beacon.
The lighthouse is open for tours Monday – Friday (1 – 4:45 pm), May – September. Tours are also given the second Saturday of the month, May – October.

Old Port Clinton Lighthouse
The small wooden lighthouse that stands at Brands Marina on the Portage River in Port Clinton is the top portion of a taller lighthouse that once guarded the west breakwater of the Portage River entrance between 1874 and 1964. It contained a single kerosene lamp that was visible for six miles. The lighthouse was removed from the breakwater in 1964 and relocated to its present location at Brands Marina, across from the Jet Express. The lighthouse was replaced with the now-familiar flashing red and green entrance lights. If you wish to visit the lighthouse, stop by Brands Marina located on the north side of the river and ask for directions. It can be viewed during regular hours of operation at the marina.

South Bass Island Lighthouse
Plans to build a lighthouse on the southwestern tip of South Bass Island were approved in 1892. In 1897, construction of the lighthouse was completed. In contrast to the typical lighthouse with a huge tower and small detached keeper’s house, the South Bass Island Lighthouse contained two and a half stories of living space, a full basement and a 60-foot attached tower. It was in operatation until 1962, guiding boats and ships that sailed along Lake Erie’s waters. The U.S. Coast Guard decided to automate the lighthouse and a steel tower with an electronic light was built on the property. The house was acquired by The Ohio State University and is currently used to conduct reserach. Although the lighthouse grounds are not open to the public, it is visible while approaching the island by ferry or boat and the University does host an annual open house. The original 1892 Fourth Order Fresnel Lens is displayed at the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum on South Bass Island. The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Vermilion Lighthouse
The first Vermilion Lighthouse was a wooden structure that was built in 1847. The lighthouse, not sturdy enough for long-term use, was rebuilt in 1859. A whale lamp was added. The lamp’s flame was surrounded by red glass, resulting in a red beam that, with the help of a Sixth Order Fresnel Lens, was visible from Lake Erie. The lighthouse was once again rebuilt in 1877. The new lighthouse stood 34 feet tall and had an oil lantern with a Fifth Order Fresnel Lens. In 1919, the oil lantern was replaced with an acetylene lamp. In 1929, it was discovered that the lighthouse was leaning toward the river and was considered unstable. Not long after the lighthouse had been dismantled, a steep-sided 18-foot steel pyramidal tower was erected. The new structure, called a “functional disgrace,” continued to shine a red light, but was automated. In 1992 the lighthouse was finally brought back to Vermilion. It serves not only as part of the Inland Seas Maritime Museum, but also as an active aid to navigation. Visitors are able to walk up to it to get a closer view.

The remains of other lighthouses can be seen on Turtle Island and West Sister Island. For more information or for a complete lighthouse brochure, contact our office (Lake Erie Shores & Islands Welcome Center) or Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Inc.

What is the story of the Boy with the Boot statue?

Near the Erie County Courthouse in Sandusky is a water fountain that features a statue of a boy holding up a boot. That statue serves as the unofficial mascot of the city.

The Boy with the Boot

The Boy with the Boot in Washington Park, Sandusky, OH

It was first installed in 1895 by Voltaire Scott, a man from Baden, Germany. He had purchased a two story hotel on the corner of Water and Wayne sts (where the Citizen’s Bank is currently) and established a small park across the street to give his guests a better, more beautiful view. It was named Scott Park. In the center, he built a pedestal of rock, surrounded by grass, various trees and shrubs and sidewalks as well. The statue of the Boy with the Boot, which was cast by J.W. Fiske Ironworks in New York City, was placed on the pedestal. Other statues were also built, including water spouting dolphins and maids of the mist. In the evenings, Scott Park was illuminated by colored lights strung overhead and placed beneath the water, which was a fairly new innovation at the time. Guests enjoyed this spectacular view for years. However, in 1924, it was severely damaged by a tornado and the statues were stored in the city greenhouse. In 1935, the park was leveled in order to construct a parking lot and the Boy with the Boot was given a new home, Washington Park. The statue was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

During the 1990’s, the Boy with the Boot statue was damaged several times by vandals. The original zinc statue was repaired and an identical bronze cast was made. Today, the original statue can be found in the lobby of the City Hall building on Meigs Street. The identical bronze statue is the statue on display in Washington Park year round.