Cedar Point near Sandusky, Ohio on Lake Erie is the site of one of the oldest and best amusement parks in the U.S. North of the marina, near the northwestern tip of the point, is a fenced off maintenance and storage area that once was the location of the Cedar Point Light Station.
An impromptu stop in mid-August to see what was left, if anything, at the site, revealed plans for the restoration of the 1867 lighthouse, which still stands, sans tower.
Development plans for what may become a nautically themed guest area with cabins along the shoreline are to be formerly announced this month.
Unknown to most park visitors, a lighthouse was established at Cedar Point in 1839 to mark the eastern approach to Sandusky Bay and Sandusky Harbor. (The western edge of the bay had already been lit, and continues so, by Marblehead Light which went into service in 1822.) In 1853 a front range beacon was added about 265 feet north of the lighthouse, which then served as the rear range light of the range.
Old photographs show that the first lighthouse was a small, rectangular, stone dwelling, stuccoed, with saw-tooth styled Dutch gables. A short octagonal tower emerged from the center of the roof peak. Total height of the tower was only 28 feet. The light was completely rebuilt in 1867 of cut limestone with a square wooden light tower still centered on the roof peak, but now 10 feet higher.
Both range lights were discontinued on March 31, 1904, made redundant by channel improvements and better-placed range lights leading into Sandusky Harbor. The light tower was removed from the roof of the main dwelling. The front light was destroyed by fire, probably arson, on July 5, 1910. At the time of the fire the range light was in use as a storage shed and old photos reveal a structure that resembled a large rectangular clubhouse on pilings more than an aid to navigation. Where exactly a light was displayed on this structure is not apparent.
After the lights were discontinued, the Lighthouse Service and later the Coast Guard continued to maintain a presence at the site which then served as a buoy depot, a radio beacon station, and later a search and rescue boat station. A large red brick duplex was built in the 1920’s to house the families of the Commander and Executive Officers. This building remains intact, as does the boathouse/buoy shed. The old lighthouse was used as quarters and galley for enlisted personnel. The boat station was finally closed in 1975 and duties were transferred to the Marblehead Coast Guard station across the bay. On the day of my visit, the demolition of an old concrete generator building was nearing completion.
Cedar Point Amusement Park acquired the property about ten years ago. Park developers are to be commended for their plans to restore this historic, but forgotten gem on Lake Erie. Cedar Point is the “Amazement Park.”
This story appeared in the
October 2000 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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