Marblehead Lighthouse

Marblehead, Ohio

  • Site Established: 1819
  • Current Bldg. Erected: 1822
  • Height of Light Structure: 65 ft.
  • Focal Plane of Light: 67 ft.
  • Active: Yes
  • Lens: Outer: 300 MM
  • Beacon Visibility

Historic Significance Score: 5

Established in 1819, Sandusky Bay Light was funded by appropriations of the 15th Congress of the U.S.

In 1870, Sandusky Bay Light took on the name of Marblehead Light sharing the name with the peninsula on which it sits.

Marblehead Light is definitely a “home grown” light. It was constructed from limestone, similar to the rock foundation that currently juts the tower out into Lake Erie, that was quarried near the light and was indigenous to the area.

It could also be argued that the first keeper could have been considered “home grown” as well. Benajah Wolcott was one of the first settlers on the Marblehead peninsula and a veteran of the Revolutionary War as well.

The tower’s life saving station was originally a half mile away, but in 1880 a light keeper’s house was established near the lighthouse grounds.

In 1946, the lighthouse was taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard and then automated in 1958.

Today the tower is run by The Ohio Department of Natural Resources. This organization has maintained the property since 1972 and has gained ownership of the light in 1998.

Marblehead Light has the dinstinction of being the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes.

Majesty Score: 3

Marblehead Light has an average majesty at only 65 ft. in height. The tower has a close embankment of trees surrounding it (see right) that somewhat takes away from the majesty. Because of the shade from these trees and their emcompassment of the tower, it is sometimes difficult to get good photographs from the land side of the light.

Water View Score: 4

Marblehead has a great water view that you can enjoy out on the rocks near the lighthouse or especially when climbing the tower.

From the rocks in front of the lighthouse, on the water’s edge, you can see a few islands including Kelleys and South Bass Islands.

From the top of the tower you can see Cedar Point, the famous amusement park, off to your right when facing the lake.

Preservation Score: 5

Marblehead had just undergone an extensive renovation to the light and keeper’s house that was concluded in May 2002.

This major project included repairing all cracks in the structures and even raising the keeper’s house on jacks to replace some support beams that were rotting. The facility also was updated with air conditioning and made handicap accessible.

The property is pristinely maintained and, because of that, very inviting for a visit.

The biggest misconception that I had before actually visiting this light had to do with the amount of property that I thought the light would have. I figured that the light being established so early in the peninsula’s history would result in a significant amount of property preserved for the light. Actually, the lighthouse and adjoining building sit on only a few acres of land that seemed tucked away or nestled between other property plots including a church that borders the property of the lighthouse.

Recently however, the state of Ohio has purchased an additional 10 acres that are adjoining to the lighthouse property.

Surrounding Area Score: 4

The town of Marblehead still lays claim to its roots as a quarry town, as the town still features an active quarry. You will see conveyor belts in some parts of town that are used to transport the excavated product from the quarry. Actually, the limestone here was considered so superior that it was used in construction of the Empire State Building in New York.

The center of the town of Marblehead is a actually a little town with free-standing small white buildings and stores that have a quaint feel to them.

Marblehead is also the only place in the world where Lake Side Daisies grow. Be on the lookout!

The area’s biggest claim to fame, however, is that it boast one of the best amusement parks in America.

A recent poll in an industry magazine for amusement parks cited Cedar Point as the best amusement park in America for the fifth year in a row!

The poll also mentioned that Cedar Point had 3 out of the top 12 steel roller coasters in the world, including 2 out of the top 3. The Millennium Force, voted the best coaster, is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in North America, reaching a height of 310 ft. and a speed of 93 miles per hour!

The amusement park also announced plans for a “better” roller coaster to be opened in 2003!

You might not want to pack a picnic lunch to this lighthouse if planning a stop at Cedar Point.

For those of the less thrill-seeking nature, East Harbor State Park, Ohio’s largest state park, is also nearby.

Accessibility Score: 5

Upon conclusion of the renovation, the tower has been reopened for climbing in June 2002 and total access is now available. The tours of the tower during the summer tend to favor the weekdays so please check Marblehead’s official web site before making the trip.

Beacon Score: 3

Marblehead Light currently has a 300 MM lens that flashes a green light every six seconds and can be seen for 11 nautical miles. The original 3rd order lens is on display at the Coast Guard Station.

Overall Score and Overview: 29

Because of its heritage and pristine condition, Marblehead Light is a great lighthouse trip!

If you are lucky enough to visit when no one else is there, you will see why it is a great place to spend some quiet time and appreciate its tranquility and beauty as a landmark.

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