[vc_row][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1599062210602{margin-bottom: 25px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”1221″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Our Lake Erie Lighthouse Tour” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:25px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:25px;”][/ultimate_heading][vc_column_text]People who live along the shores of the Great Lakes often have to explain to out-of-towners that “yes, the lake is big enough to need several lighthouses.” I’ve lived around two of the many that dot the shores of the northcoast.

Karen and I have a thing for lighthouses. We were sitting in front of one attending a concert when I asked her out on an official date. Early in our relationship we decided it would be cool to see as many as possible together. 

So, thanks to a suggestion by the Facebook page Only in Your State, and since COVID-19 was forcing us to stay in the state for all of our summer 2020 travels, we set out to see nine lighthouses in one day. That’s if we got our asses out of bed in time to start the day.

Well, we got our asses out of bed to see if we could pull this off. As Karen said, “My god, we’re out of the house before noon.”

We decided to start as far west as we thought we could go and still get back to Conneaut by sunset. We even discussed skipping both the Fairport Lighthouses since we both grew up at the beaches they protect.

So even the number of lighthouses we decided to check out for the day changed as the day went on. That’s kind of the way we roll. My friends who were following our day on my Instagram feed probably noticed the different number of stops we were expecting to make throughout the day each time I posted.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1599061925222{margin-top: 25px !important;}”][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1599061885715{margin-top: 15px !important;margin-bottom: 25px !important;}”][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Port Clinton” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;”]We picked a really nice sunshiny Sunday and hopped into the loaner car I was using after an accident and headed out on the highway to Port Clinton. The first leg was the longest at nearly two hours away.

We arrived at the beach area where the Port Clinton Lighthouse now stands and realized immediately we had made the right choice to get our asses out of bed today.

There was a really nice park where people were fishing or launching kayaks. We watched the Jet Express float down the river after bringing people back from Put-in-Bay. Because of COVID, it was the only port of several that the company was operating at that time.

This was also the closest we were able to get to any of the lighthouses to get them fully in the photo. By far the shortest I’ve been around.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1219″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]This restored lighthouse, built in 1896 and placed at the entrance of the Portage River on the outer end of the west pier, remained active for 56 years. The light was decommissioned in 1952, when it was moved on orders of the U.S. Coast Guard. For more than 60 years, this lighthouse stood quietly on private property, a local marina. 

The marina in turn sold the lighthouse back to the city, and it was placed in the park fully restored. At just 20 ft, Port Clinton Light is the shortest lighthouse in the state.

Restoration of the lighthouse began in 2014 by the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy.1[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1599062090380{margin-top: 25px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;background-color: #e0e0e0 !important;}”][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Marblehead” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” margin_design_tab_text=””]We had been to the Marblehead Lighthouse just a few weeks earlier on another trip to that part of the state, but we wanted to make a stop on this tour. This is such a beautiful part of our state. You can see the islands from here as well. But it doesn’t do much good unless you are back in Port Clinton catching the Jet Express.

There is a very nice park surrounding this lighthouse. The grounds also house an education facility. There was plenty of fishing and sun worship going on in the park. The lighthouse itself sits very near the edge of the water.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Built in 1821, the Marblehead Lighthouse is still standing strong as the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on all of the Great Lakes. Gracefully set on the rocky limestone shore of Lake Erie, this beacon and its adjacent Keeper’s House became an Ohio State Park in 1998. 

The tower’s illustrious history boasts the first female lighthouse keeper in the United States, a rare three and one-half order Fresnel lens, and a functional iron staircase dating to the early 1900’s. A masonry finish covers the original limestone exterior of the lighthouse. Inside you will find a brick stack constructed in the late 1800’s to raise the tower’s height by fifteen feet. The commanding view from the top showcases several Lake Erie islands, a glacial alvar below, and a view of the Cleveland shoreline on clear days. The on-site Keeper’s House was built in 1880 and is now a museum staffed by historical society volunteers.2[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1213″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1599054157579{margin-top: 15px !important;margin-bottom: 15px !important;}”][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Vermilion” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;”]The Vermilion Lighthouse overlooks a little beach area at the end of a road. It looks kind of crowded where it was. This one was tough to take a photo of because we were so close to it with little space to spare between the lighthouse and the cliff it overlooks.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1212″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Vermilion Lighthouse is a replica of the original lighthouse that was later moved to Lake Ontario. Known as the “Town of Sea Captains,” Vermilion was without a lighthouse for 63 yrs. 

Erected on 23 October 1991 and dedicated on 6 June 1992, the lighthouse is illuminated by a 200 watt incandescent light bulb with a 5th order Fresnel lensThe current lighthouse is a 34-foot replica of the previous Vermilion Lighthouse that had been removed in 1929.

Interesting side note: The previous one was built in 1877. After it was discovered to be leaning to one side, in 1929 the lighthouse was removed and replaced with an 18 feet steel tower. The old iron lighthouse was transported back to Buffalo where it was later renovated and reinstalled as the East Charity Shoal Light on the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1935.3&4[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1599062090380{margin-top: 25px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;background-color: #e0e0e0 !important;}”][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Lorain Harbor” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;”]Then it was just a short hop over to the Lorain Harbor Lighthouse. That we could barely see. We got as close to it as we could. We had to walk down a sandy beach access cement ramp, down to an area of isolated beach, then over to a deteriorating cement pier to even get the photo we took.

On the way back up the ramp, I found someone’s iPhone. I was looking to see if there were any identifying things about it when a guy came running down the grassy embankment, saying, “That’s mine!” I didn’t even question him. There is no way to fake, “Where the hell did I leave my phone” panic in one’s facial expression.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]In 1922, the old wooden tower at the end of the west pier was replaced by a skeletal, steel tower, whose electric light operated on commercial power instead of oil. In 1965, as part of a $22 million improvement of the harbor at Lorain, an outer breakwall was put in place, and an automated modern tower, erected at its western tip, took over the function of lighting the harbor entrance. No longer needed, Lorain Lighthouse lost its last crew and was slated for demolition by the Coast Guard.

In 1973, after years of protest about the demolition, the Coast Guard turned the lighthouse over to the General Services Administration, which worked to sell the structure. The Army Corps of Engineers restored the lighthouse and stabilized its foundation in the 1990s at a cost of $850,000, quite a bit more than the $35,000 spent to build the original wood structure in 1917.5[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1216″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1599054157579{margin-top: 15px !important;margin-bottom: 15px !important;}”][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Cleveland West” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;”]Since the distance between this and the next lighthouse would take us approximately an hour, we thought it should be time to stop for some dinner. Good thing we had a big lunch before we left. Thanks to COVID, it would be a while before we found a restaurant. Meanwhile, we drove by some of the most beautiful and luxurious homes we ever saw. ALL of them well beyond the means we ever expect to have. But it was nice to dream for that next hour we also couldn’t find a restaurant. 

To get even close to the Cleveland West Lighthouse, we had to get out to Wendy Park on Whiskey Island. It’s a dusty construction road out to the park that sits inside a breakwall that sees plenty of lake freighter traffic. Today was no different. Plenty of great grilled food smells filled the air as we watched a particularly skilled captain turn his ship on a dime as it entered the Cuyahoga River.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1211″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The West Pierhead Light was built at the end of a 4-mile long concrete pier. The West Pierhead Light and East Pierhead lights were built in 1911 to guide ships to the entrance of Cleveland Harbor and the Cuyahoga River. A light station had existed in the area since 1831.

Attached to the 67-foot steel tower is a one and a half story iron fog signal building that was also built in 1911. The keepers quarters are included in the tower. Other structures on the site include a steel sound signal building constructed in 1916 and a radio beacon.

The lighthouse was automated in 1965 and still flashes its beacon to alert ships every five seconds. The original Fresnel lens in now on exhibit at the nearby Great Lakes Science Center.6&9[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1599062090380{margin-top: 25px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;background-color: #e0e0e0 !important;}”][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Fairport Harbor” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” margin_design_tab_text=””]Next on the list was not only a two-fer, but they are in a town both of us are very familiar with. But first, dinner. We pulled in and out of about a half dozen restaurants without even getting out of the car, because most of them weren’t even opening on Sundays anymore during the pandemic. We finally decided on a restaurant that we could find open, and one we’ve been to a couple of times together; Hooley House in Mentor.

Back on the road to finish our adventure. We were now on a time constraint because our goal was to get to Conneaut before sunset.

We hopped over to the pair of Fairport Lighthouses. The old one turned into a museum is the background of the photo we took on the day I asked her out.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light was built in 1925 at the mouth of the Grand River. It was constructed to replace the original Fairport Harbor Lighthouse, which now serves as a marine museum. The original Fairport Harbor lighthouse protected the shore and directed mariners for 100 years before being falling into disrepair. In June 1917, Congress appropriated $42,000 for the construction of a new breakwater light. That funding included monies that would be used to demolish the original lighthouse. However, the reality of destroying the older lighthouse didn’t sit well with the citizens of Fairport and as a result, the Secretary of Commerce agreed to let the old lighthouse remain.

The Fairport Harbor Old Main Lighthouse sits at the mouth of the Grand River high upon an atoll. The 60-foot structure, known as the “light that shone for a hundred years”, was built in 1825 and then rebuilt in 1871. The structure is accompanied by a museum that features exhibits on Great Lakes shipping and maritime life.

The Fairport Old Main Lighthouse was a beacon of hope for many escaped slaves traveling the “Underground Railroad.” The lighthouse was a convenient port for slaves departing for Canada and slaves were often hidden inside the lighthouse structure awaiting departure.6&10[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1214″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][vc_single_image image=”1215″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image” css=”.vc_custom_1599072950059{margin-top: 10px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1599054157579{margin-top: 15px !important;margin-bottom: 15px !important;}”][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Ashtabula Harbor” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;”]We were now running out of daylight, but we knew we could still make it. However, the Ashtabula Lighthouse, which sits well out on a long breakwall, was tough to get close enough to get a good photo without walking a considerable distance.

We tried approaching it from the Walnut Beach side, but there was no way we were going to get close from there. So we went to Point Park, high above the Ashtabula River. I have gotten good video of the lighthouse from here in years past, but I was using a really good zoom lens.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1217″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Ashtabula Lighthouse, located at the far eastern edge of Ohio’s Lake Erie coastline, was built in 1905, the third lighthouse to grace Ashtabula Harbor. The structure, which sits on the Ashtabula breakwater, was manned until 1973, the last of the Lake Erie lighthouses to remain manned.

A couple interesting stories about this lighthouse.

A Canadian Steamship Lines boat, the Gleneagles, rammed the lighthouse in 1927. The collision pushed the lighthouse back six inches without much structural damage, but the heavily damaged ship didn’t fare as well.

The next year, an ice storm coated the lighthouse in ice, trapping two keepers inside for two days. The men had to thaw the front door and then hack their way through five feet of ice to get out.7[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1599062090380{margin-top: 25px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;background-color: #e0e0e0 !important;}”][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Conneaut” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;”]Now the question was, could we get to Conneaut in time to see the sunset and finish our goal of nine lighthouses in one day. We had another beautiful lakefront drive ahead of us. One of my favorites that I’ve made several times.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Conneaut Lighthouse is a reinforced concrete building two stories in height with a tower rising in the northeast corner. The cellar contains oil-storage tanks and other storerooms; the first floor provides a power room, kitchen, office and supply room; the second floor contains the water tanks, air receivers and a bedroom and the diaphone apparatus is placed in the tower. The light was placed in commission September 15, 1920, and the fog signal went into operation April 15, 1922. It can be easily viewed from anywhere in the Port of Conneaut.8[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1218″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1599054157579{margin-top: 15px !important;margin-bottom: 15px !important;}”][ultimate_heading main_heading=”What a day!” alignment=”left” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” margin_design_tab_text=””]Well…we got to Conneaut in time to see the sun set. But we still had quite a walk down the beach towards an elevated structure where we could get our ninth and final selfie in front of a far distant lighthouse before we could end an extremely adventurous day.

We left home at 11:30 AM. We strolled back into my apartment about 10:00 PM after driving well over 300 miles. We saw plenty of beauty especially along Lake Erie. We saw multi-million dollar homes and an over-crowded Whiskey Island Still & Eatery.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1220″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]And we got to see our sunset!

Most of all Karen and I spent some quality time together learning about parts of Ohio we’d never been to, even though they were right in our back yard.

So if anyone ever tells you there’s nothing to do in Ohio, show them this story about a couple of lighthouse lunatics.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1599072803802{margin-top: 25px !important;margin-bottom: 25px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;background-color: #d3d3d3 !important;}”][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Lighthouse Resources for Story” alignment=”left” margin_design_tab_text=”” main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:18px;” sub_heading_font_size=”desktop:12px;”]1 https://www.shoresandislands.com/things-to-do/port-clinton-lighthouse?id=512690

2 https://www.marbleheadlighthouseohio.org/lighthou

3 https://www.shoresandislands.com/things-to-do/vermilion-lighthouse?id=13663

4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermilion_Light

5 https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=281

6 https://www.tripsavvy.com/lighthouses-of-lake-erie-752565

7 https://www.midwestguest.com/2009/09/viewing-ohios-ashtabula-lighthouse.html

8 https://ohio.org/wps/portal/gov/tourism/things-to-do/destinations/conneaut-west-breakwater-lighthouse

9 http://lighthouse.boatnerd.com/gallery/Erie/Cleveland-West.htm

10 https://www.facebook.com/FairportHarborWestLighthouse/[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][/vc_row]