There are so many things to see and do up around Lake Erie, whether by the shore or on the water. When my family goes to the lake, we usually take the boat and many times we put in at one of the marinas close to West Sister Island. This island is a nature preserve, and most of its 80-some acres was designated as a bird and wildlife refuge back in the ‘30’s by President Roosevelt. A lighthouse sits on the westernmost point of the island; the lighthouse and its surrounding five acres are overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard. This is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses on the Great Lakes which is still used for navigation assistance. Due to the island being protected as a conservation area, the lighthouse is not open to the public, but you can see it from the shore, or if you have a boat, it is best observed from the water. I have often wished I could go up in it and have a look around, but it is not to be! And since I am fascinated by lighthouses, I got to thinking . . . why not discover some of Lake Erie’s other lighthouses!
I visited three lighthouses and I picked them because they’re all within about 20-30 minutes of each other. This was my own self-guided tour and certainly not an all-inclusive list of lighthouses, just my simple little summer day trip! Part One is all about my visit to Marblehead, and in Part Two, I describe the other two lighthouses on my agenda; one at the Huron Fishing Pier, and another at Vermilion’s Main Street Beach.
Located in Marblehead, Ohio and in the Marblehead State Park, it’s a great place to go to fish, picnic and relax.
The Marblehead Lighthouse, I’m told, is the oldest lighthouse still operating continuously on the Great Lakes. When you visit, for only $3, you can get a brief history and then ascend the spiral stairway to the top! The steps are made of a metal grate and, therefore, not solid, so they let light through.
Don’t worry because there is a hand rail for those who might feel a bit dizzy looking through the stairway.
From the top the view is spectacular all around. To the north lies Canada, it is very close, but you aren’t able to see it. Kelley’s Island can be seen to the west, and in the distance you can see the Bass islands. You can’t miss Perry’s Monument standing tall on South Bass Island, the island home to another fun destination, Put-In-Bay. Walking around the overlook and upper tier, to the East is the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, or Cedar Point, easily sited by its roller coaster-filled skyline. It is actually a beautiful view from the overlook as you can see all around the grounds of the Marblehead State Park.
The Museum has a lot of history and is operated by the Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society’s all volunteer staff.
The Fresnel lens displayed in the Museum was the last one used in the lighthouse.
The lighthouse no longer uses the Fresnel, having gone to an electric beacon in 1923, which increased the intensity of the light. The beacon is a green flash every six seconds so mariners can know they are looking at Marblehead. All lighthouse beacons have their own unique timing.
During the history of the lighthouse, some height was added and, in order to support the extra tallness, an inner wall of brick was added.
New this year is the lifesaving station, so don’t miss out, stop by and take a look. All volunteers are very informative and happy to chat. I even got a great recommendation of where to dine for lunch in Marblehead!
As always, my opinions are my own . . . .see disclaimer .