Marblehead Lighthouse, in Marblehead, Ohio, the oldest continuously operational lighthouse on the Great Lakes, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. Today, the Marblehead Lighthouse Society maintains a museum and a gift shop at the light station.
Here are some quick facts with a few photos associated with the historic and beautiful lighthouse.
Originally named Sandusky Bay Lighthouse, its name was changed to Marblehead Lighthouse in 1870.
Benajah Wolcott, a native of Connecticut and one of the first settlers of the local county, was appointed its first keeper on June 24, 1822.
From 1822 to 1943, fifteen people served as head keepers; two of them were women, both of whom replaced their husbands who died at the lighthouse. They were Rachel Wolcott, who served as the second keeper from 1832 to 1834, and Johanna A McGee, keeper from 1896 to 1903. Interestingly, Rachel Wolcott, who was the second keeper and was the widow of Benajah Wolcott, the first keeper, later married Jeremiah Van Benschoter, who was the third the third keeper at Marblehead Lighthouse from 1834 to 1841.
In 1897, the top eight feet of the tower were removed and a cylindrical, brick extension, which housed a watch room and closets, was added to the top of the tower in its place. A brick cylinder was also constructed within the sixty-five-foot tower to hold a new spiral, cast-iron stairway and to support a larger lantern, taken from the Erie Pennsylvania’s discontinued Erie Land Lighthouse, that was placed atop the tower in 1900.
The lighthouse was electrified in 1923.
The last civilian keeper was Edward Herman, who served as the 1st assistant keeper from 1913 to 1933 and then head keeper until 1943.
The lighthouse was automated in 1958.
In 1970, the 3 ½ order Fresnel lens was removed from the tower.
In 2004, the Fresnel lens was put on display in the former keeper’s house at the site.
It is widely believed to be the most photographed historic site in Ohio.
Marblehead Lighthouse is located ten miles from the Canadian border across Lake Erie.
The lighthouse was declared excess property by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1996.
In 1998, the Marblehead Lighthouse and the grounds became an Ohio State Park.
The tower was last restored in 2019 at a cost of $200,000.
Over one million people a year visit the lighthouse and its park.
This story appeared in the
May/Jun 2022 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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