Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio

The Marblehead Lighthouse State Park on the Marblehead Peninsula in northern Ohio has nine acres and a terrific view of Lake Erie. This park is open year around. In November and December, the Lighthouse is all decked out in Christmas finery. This lighthouse is always in season, just like Lake Erie walleye. The walking, fishing, picnicking, and map-reading at this park can make for a fun-filled afternoon on a mild winter day.

The Marblehead Lighthouse is always in season, even if some of the eateries and other attractions on the Marblehead Peninsula are closed for the winter. This state park sits on the very eastern tip of the peninsula on Route 163, right next to the St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church. More than 45,000 visitors from near and far come to the Lighthouse every year.

The Christmas finery first appears in late November and lasts through the first week of January. The dates are posted online by the Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society at Constructed in 1821, this is the longest continually operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. The top fifteen feet of the lighthouse were added in 1903, and the entire property was taken over by the state of Ohio from the Federal government in 1998. Commercial and industrial vessels do not use the lighthouse for navigation anymore, but recreational boaters still rely on it.

The Marblehead Lighthouse Museum is open in-season and is a journey through time. Past Lighthouse beacons on display include whale oil lamps, Coleman-style kerosene lamps, and incandescent bulbs. In June 2013 a green LED was installed in the Lighthouse that flashes every six seconds. Built in 1880 for the keepers and their families, the Keeper’s House opened as a museum in 2000 and is now wheelchair accessible.

These picnic tables provide an unsurpassed view of Lake Erie and are great for lunch on a mild day. The pathway in the foreground takes visitors all around the park. The gazebo at St. Mary's is on the far left, Perry's Monument (out of view in this image) is to just to its right, and looking north is Kelley's Island in the distance. This is a “carry-in, carry-out” park, and there are no trashcans.

Many of the bricks surrounding this inlaid compass carry heart-felt sentiments. Some are from life-long Marblehead residents, some are memorials for soldiers, and others are in remembrance of Coast Guard sailors. The bricks are sold by the Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society to raise funds for the upkeep of the Lighthouse and its grounds.

Temperatures reached 45 degrees on November 30th, but ice covered the limestone surrounding the Lighthouse. Nevertheless, walleye is always "in-season." Some hardy souls will even fish after dark, as the green LED beacon at the Lighthouse can be seen for 11 nautical miles. (Be aware that the park’s portable facilities are locked out-of-season.)

Limestone surrounds the Marblehead Lighthouse; in fact, the Lighthouse was built from native limestone. In addition, the pre-1880 Keeper's House was also built from limestone. The alvar at the base of the Lighthouse contains many fossils, including brachiopods, tabulate coral and horned coral. (This is probably a horned coral here.) These fossils are most likely from the Ordovician period, some 450 million years ago.

It's always a good day to be a dog, especially at Marblehead. Unlike Port Clinton City Beach, the shore here at the Lighthouse wasn't frozen over for as far as the eye could see. The waves rolled in all day with their reassuring rhythm. Almost all the water in Lake Erie comes from the Upper Lakes--Superior, Michigan, and Huron--via the Detroit River.

The freighter in this image probably loaded up with limestone at the Marblehead Quarry just to the west of the Lighthouse. In the background is Kelleys Island, which is only three nautical miles from the shore, to the north. Just beyond Kelleys Island is Canada's Pelee Island.

Looking ahead to summer, the Cedar Point amusement park is just one quick glance to the east of the Lighthouse. In the foreground of this image is the highly-trafficked Moseley Channel north-south freighter shipping lane. The Cedar Point Beach is on the far left side of Cedar Point itself, which will open again next May.

Return to Top

Privacy Policy