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.
#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.
#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 http://www.remarkableohio.org/. A lot of visitors make a hobby out of seeking out historical markers during their vacations. Which ones do you want to check out?