Marblehead Lighthouse, Ohio, USA (with Map & Photos)

Marblehead Lighthouse - From the beginning, the Great Lakes lighthouses tended to be built where population and businesses were growing rapidly. It was necessary both to warn of the dangers and to signal the sailors who were approaching important commercial ports.

Such is the case with Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest active lighthouse in the Great Lakes region. The lighthouse was built to mark the entrance to Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie in northern Ohio.

Marblehead Lighthouse
Marblehead Lighthouse

Located on the Marblehead Peninsula just north of Sandusky, the light directed boaters toward the mouth of Sandusky Bay, which could sometimes be overlooked along Ohio's low, nondescript shoreline.

The Marblehead Lighthouse, then named Sandusky Bay Light, was built in 1821. It consisted of a sturdy 55-foot conical tower located on a rock platform just a few feet from the water's edge. Painted white, with red trim around the gangway and on the ceiling of the light room, the lighthouse produced a strong light that could be counted on to show ships the way to the bay.

Eventually, a Fresnel lens replaced the original array of 13 lamps and reflectors, and the tower was also raised about ten feet to increase its visibility across the lake.

One of the most interesting stories related to the Marblehead Lighthouse occurred during the Civil War. A group of southern sympathizers tried in vain to free some of their compatriots from a Union prisoner of war camp on Johnson Island in Sandusky Bay, south of the Marblehead Lighthouse.

As part of their failed effort, they stole a passenger ship. However, the sight of a large Union ship guarding the island frightened them. Instead of landing on Johnson Island to free their prisoners, the Confederate partisans crossed Lake Erie into Canada, where they sank the ship they had stolen.

The Marblehead Lighthouse is still an active station and the site has been turned into an Ohio state park.

Marblehead Lighthouse Map