Resting on the Marblehead Peninsula, a rocky headland of Columbus Limestone that juts into Lake Erie, Marblehead Lighthouse is one of Lake Erie's best known and most-photographed landmarks. As the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes, Marblehead Lighthouse has guided sailors safely along the rocky shores of Marblehead Peninsula since 1822.
In 1819, the 15th 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.
Through history, 15 lighthouse keepers, two of whom were women, have tended the beacon. The first keeper was Benajah Wolcott, a Revolutionary War veteran and one of the first settlers on the peninsula. He and his family lived in a small stone home on the Sandusky Bay side of the peninsula. Each night, he lit the wicks of the 13 whale oil lamps that were the original light fixture. Sixteen-inch-diameter metal reflectors helped project the light across the lake.
Today Marblehead's beloved beacon continues to shine and protect boaters from peril in Lake Erie's unpredictable waters along her rocky shores and the U.S. Coast Guard continues to operate and maintain the lighthouse beacon.
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