3 Things You Didn’t Know About the Marblehead Lighthouse

Marblehead Lighthouse

Marblehead Lighthouse

The Marblehead Lighthouse is one of Marblehead’s oldest and finest tourist destinations. Built in 1821, it’s the oldest lighthouse in operation on this side of the Lake Erie, and visitors today can climb the seventy-seven steps it takes to reach the top for a scenic view over the lake. On a clear day, you can even spot the Cedar Point roller coaster.

You may have known that the lighthouse has been featured on a postage stamp and was even on the Ohio license plate. But did you know the first female lightkeeper in the United States operated out of the Marblehead Lighthouse? Keep reading for more interesting and little known facts about the Marblehead Lighthouse.

It Has Ties to the Revolutionary War

During the Revolutionary War, British troops invaded several towns in Connecticut with the intent to burn down the houses and pillage for goods. Left to fend for themselves, residents prepared to defend their homes and lay claim to their land, but their attempts proved unsuccessful. Many families without shelter spent years petitioning for relief. As a result, a stretch of twenty-five miles along the Ohio coast, including Marblehead, was reserved for these families who wished to relocate.

The land set aside for the Connecticut sufferers is more commonly known as the Firelands. The first lightkeeper, Benajah Wolcott, migrated to Ohio as a member of the Firelands Survey Team. A fiddle player, family man, and Revolutionary War veteran, Wolcott was appointed the first lightkeeper of the Marblehead Lighthouse in 1822.

The Keeper’s House is the Oldest Residence Still Standing in Ottawa County

Wolcott commissioned a personal residence to be built off to the side of the lighthouse in 1822. Like the lighthouse, his personal dwelling is also built of limestone. Each night after sundown, Wolcott would traverse over to the lighthouse to light the thirteen whale oil lamps, where he stayed through the night to man the lights until morning.

Today the Keeper’s House hosts a museum and gift shop and is operated by the Marblehead Lighthouse HIstorical Society. An estimated one million people visit Marblehead State Park on a yearly basis.

It’s a Romantic Destination 

Historically, the Marblehead Lighthouse has some important romantic connections. In 1832, Benajah Wolcott’s wife Rachel took over the duties of the lightkeeper. Her second husband, Jeremiah van Benschoten, became the third lightkeeper two years later. The romantic ties don’t stop there; Wolcott’s granddaughter eventually married the son of the man who built the lighthouse by a circuit riding preacher traveling the area.

During the holiday season, the lighthouse is adorned with wreaths and red bows. Summer is a great time to bring your family to visit, but on a snowy winter day, the house blends in with the icy lake and the white landscape, and the holiday lights shine through the moonlit night. A winter walk can leave a couple feeling the awe and splendor of the scenery, and there’s nothing better than relaxing by a fire after a chilly stroll by the lake.

The Real Great Lakes Experience

Chicago boasts the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) for splendid views of Lake Michigan, and in Toronto, you can see Lake Ontario from your hotel room. But here in Ohio, we play by nature’s rules. Instead of a towering commercial structure, the Marblehead Lighthouse is a Great Lakes offering that has guided ships to Lake Erie’s shores for almost two centuries. It’s rich with history and teeming with family fun, something the both locals and vacationers can enjoy. Make a weekend out of it; stay, relax, and see what Marblehead has to offer.