Marblehead Lighthouse (OH)

Sept. 17, 2019

Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio

Establishd in 1820.


Location: On the northeasterly end of Marblehead, westerly part of Lake Erie, Ohio, and southerly side of the entrance to the channel between Kelleys and Bass islands and the mainland.
Station Established: 1821
Year Current Tower: First Lit: 1821
Operational: Yes
Automated: Yes, 1958
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: Stone
Construction Materials: Limestone
Tower Shape: Conical
Tower Height: 60 feet from base of tower to center of lantern
Markings/Pattern: White with red trim; black lantern
Characteristic: Fixed white
Relationship to Other Structure: Separate
Original Lens: 13 Lamps & Reflectors; 4th Order (as of 1901)
Foghorn: None

Historical Information:

  • Congress appropriated $5,000 for a lighthouse "at or between the mouth of the Grand River in Ohio, and the mouth of the Ohio River in Ohio" on 3 March 1819.  An additional $5,000 was appropriated by Congress the following year to cover added expenses.
  • Established in 1821.
  • Oldest light in the state of Ohio, second oldest in Lake Erie, and the third oldest on the Great Lakes.
  • Stephen Pleasonton, Auditor of the U.S. Treasury, visited Rocky Point in 1821 and selected the site.  He negotiated the sale of the land, almost four acres total, for $300 from the estate of Epaphras W. Bull.
  • A contract for the construction of the light and a keeper's dwelling was entered into with Stephen Woolverton.  Woolverton subcontracted the actual construction to William Kelly.  The cost was $6,520.
  • The tower was built of native limestone, the light's base is 25 feet in diameter and its walls are five feet thick.
  • The original lighting apparatus was 13 Argand whale oil lamps with 16-inch reflectors.
  • The first keeper was Benajah Wolcott who took command on 17 June 1822.  He was the first American settle on the Marblehead Peninsula.   His wife, Rachael, took over his duties when he died in 1832.  When she remarried, her new husband, Jeremiah Benschooter, became the keeper.  He tended the light until 1842.
  • The next keeper was tavern-owner Colonel Charles F. Drake, who was described in a newspaper article as a "pompous individual. . .[and a] very eccentric gentleman of the old school."
  • It was originally called the Sandusky Bay Light until 1870.
  • The lighting apparatus was changed in 1858 to a Fourth Order Fresnel lens.
  • Tower was increased in height by 15-feet in 1897.
  • The lantern room was replaced with one taken from the Erie, Pennsylvania main light.
  • A Fourth Order bi-valve lens was installed along with a clockwork mechanism.
  • Light was electrified in 1923.
  • In 1939 the light was a "sub-unit" of the nearby Marblehead Lifeboat Station and was manned by personnel attached to that unit.
  • The light was automated in 1958.
  • The Fresnel lens was removed in 1972 and replaced with a 300 mm green flashing light.  
  • Currently an active aid to navigation but the property and lighthouse are now owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
  • The Keeper's House serves as the Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society Museum.


  • Benajah Wolcott: 17 June 1822-1832
  • Rachael Wolcott: 1832-?
  • Jeremiah Benschooter: ?-1842
  • Col. Charles F. Drake: 1842-29 May 1849
  • Capt. Lodavick Brown: 1849-1853
  • Jared B. Keyes: 28 April 1853-1859
  • D. L. Dayton: 1 February 1859-1861
  • Thomas Dyer: 29 March 1861-1865
  • Russell Douglas (or Douglass): 12 December 1865-1872
  • Thomas J. Keyes: 27 August 1872-1873
  • George H. McKee: 15 August 1873-1903?
  • Capt. Charles Hunter: 1903-1933
  • Edward Herman (Assistant Keeper): 1913-1933
  • Edward Herman (Keeper): 1933-11 May 1943 (resigned but "continued to care for the light until the Coast Guard took over in the summer of 1943.")