Marblehead Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes. It was built in 1822 to guide ships to the entrance to Sandusky Bay. When built, the 50-foot lighthouse used whale oil lamps. Those lamps were replaced in 1858 by a single kerosene lantern magnified by a Fresnel lens to create a white, highly visible light.
Around 1900, the height of the lighthouse was increased to 65-feet tall to increase visibility and a mechanism was added to rotate the lantern at 10-second intervals. An electric light replaced the kerosene lantern in 1923, increasing the intensity of the lighthouse. In 2012. the U.S. Coast Guard (which operates and maintains the beacon) replaced the incandescent light with an LED light. The green signal flashes every six seconds and can be seen up to 13 miles away.
While the Coast Guard operates and maintains the beacon, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has maintained the property surrounding the lighthouse since 1972. It accepted ownership of the lighthouse in 1998, maintaining all but the beacon. The Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society operates a museum in the old keeper’s house and conduct tours of the lighthouse during summer months.
All photos and text © Copyright - Pat D. Hemlepp. All rights reserved.