What to do in Marblehead Lighthouse State Park

In 1819, the fifteenth U. S. Congress recognized the need for navigational aides along the Great Lakes, and set aside $5,000 for construction of a light tower at the entrance to Sandusky Bay. Contractor William Kelly built the 50-foot tower of native limestone on the tip of the Marblehead Peninsula. The base of the tower is 25 feet in diameter, with walls five feet thick. It narrows to twelve feet at the top with two-foot thick walls.

The turn of the century ushered in new technology as well as structural changes including the addition of another 15 feet to the tower's height. A clock-like mechanism was installed to rotate the lantern, creating the appearance of a brilliant flash of light every 10 seconds. This system required that the lighthouse keeper crank the weights every three hours through the night to keep the lantern turning. An improved Fresnel lens with prism surfaces created an even more brilliant beacon.

Modern conveniences came slowly to the timeless light tower. An electric light finally replaced the kerosene lantern in 1923, dramatically increasing the candlepower of the signal. During World War II, the lighthouse became strategically important for national defense. The last civilian lighthouse keeper resigned, and the United States Coast Guard assumed responsibility for the beacon in 1946.

The beacon was automated in 1958, making the Coast Guard's job easier. With its original finish tattered by time and harsh weather, the exterior of the lighthouse tower was given a fresh coat of new stucco the same year.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has maintained the property surrounding the lighthouse since 1972 and proudly accepted ownership of the Marblehead Lighthouse tower in May 1998. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to operate and maintain the lighthouse beacon. Today's 300 mm lens projects a green signal that flashes every six seconds and is visible for eleven nautical miles. The distinctive green distinguishes the lighthouse signal from white lights coming from air beacons.

Marblehead's beloved beacon continues to shine and protect boaters from peril in Lake Erie's unpredictable waters along her rocky shores.

The grounds surrounding Marblehead lighthouse offer excellent picnicking. Tables are supported by concrete pads. Portable restrooms are available. Tours of Marblehead Lighthouse are very popular. More than 3,800 visitors scaled the lighthouse's spiral stairway in just the first six days of the summer season!

Recreation
Touring the lighthouse, picnicking and photography are enjoyed at Ohio's newest state park.

Location
Marblehead Lighthouse State Park is located east of Port Clinton along State Route 163.

Climate
This state has four distinct seasons and a brilliant fall foliage display in it southern woods during mid October. Winter lasts from December through February with average temperatures near 25 degrees F. Low temperatures dip to single digits, but do not often drop below zero. Northern regions of the state receive average snowfall amounts of 55 inches, while the central and southern regions of the state receive lesser amounts with averages near 30 inches. This difference is caused by lake-affect moisture patterns.

Spring temperatures begin to warm the landscapes of Ohio by mid March and are in full swing by April. Temperatures range from 40 through 70 degrees F through the spring months. This season often brings the most rainfall, before the drying heat of summer. Summer can be extremely hot and humid in the interior of Ohio. Temperatures reach above 90 degrees F frequently through July and August. Cooler fall temperatures don't reach the region until mid to late September. This is a pleasant time to visit as the air is crisp with low humidity levels. Ohio's annual precipitation usually reaches slightly above 50 inches.

Address
c/o Lake Erie Islands State Park
4049 E. Moores Dock Road
Port Clinton, OH 43452

Phone: 419-797-4530


  • Marblehead Lighthouse State Park Travel Q&A