The 5 Most Beautiful Lake Erie Lighthouses

Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the Great Lakes and home to the busiest trade route. Shipwrecks (an estimated 8,000!) occur more frequently here than on any other Great Lake. As a result, lighthouses were built wherever they could help.

Lighthouses on Lake Erie are spread across New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Not only are they a navigation aid, but they are fantastic for their historical relevance, beautiful design, and scenic location.Discover his five lighthouses on Lake Erie, the most beautiful, and what to expect when you visit Read on for!

Toledo Harbor Lighthouse

The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse was built mostly of brick, reinforced with steel, and had four stories.

© David Majestic/

The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse is famous for its gingerbread house design. He is also one of the most expensive lighthouses on the Great Lakes. Lucas County, Ohio built a lighthouse in 1904 just eight miles from the headwaters of the Maumee River. The lighthouse is located at the intersection of Maumee Bay and Lake Erie, at the beginning of the Toledo Shipping Waterway.

The local Lighthouse Commission requested a lighthouse to replace the Turtle Island Lighthouse built in 1831. The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse included brick and steel beam reinforcement and was four stories high. They also built a residence with a room for one lighthouse keeper and his two assistants to help maintain the building. On the 85-foot-tall tower, he installed a 3.5-order Fresnel lens that extended the beam 24 miles. On May 23, 1904, the lighthouse was fully functional.

It was originally operated by the United States Lighthouse Service. It included a seven-room basement with its own hearth, dining room, and even a general store of goods and services. It was started. They eventually took over that ownership in April 2007.

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In 1995 the Fresnel lens was removed and replaced with a solar powered lens. However, the original can be seen at the Maumee Bay State Park Nature Center. The lighthouse is still operated by the US Coast Guard today. Take a boat tour of the state park to see its unique appearance.

green island lighthouse

Green Island Light (Ottawa County, Ohio)
The Green Island Lighthouse is a haunting ruin hidden among the trees, making it a unique place to visit.

© Public Domain – License

Green Island Lighthouse, as its name suggests, is located on Green Island. The Erie Archipelago includes 21 islands at the western end of Lake Erie. The island itself is famous for its natural celestite, a strontium-producing mineral. Professionals use it to make everything from sugar beets to fireworks. Ohio now operates the entire island as a wildlife sanctuary, adding to its travel appeal.

They built the lighthouse in 1854 with a $5,000 budget provided by the United States Congress. Construction was delayed by an outbreak of bile, but the builders completed it by November of the same year. They installed his 4th order Fresnel lens and it was fully functional the next year.

On New Year’s Eve 1863, the building burned down during the winter storm that ravaged the island. In 1864, the city built a new lighthouse and his two-story gatehouse on the site. This time the builders used limestone to prevent potential fire destruction.

By 1926 the lighthouse was automated and remained in use until 1939. At that time, authorities deemed the Green Island Lighthouse inoperable. The US Coast Guard replaced it with an iron lighthouse in 1939. The lighthouse was built at the southern tip of the island to allow ships to navigate the Southern Passage of Lake Erie.

Ohio took over ownership of the lighthouse in 1961. They soon turned Green Island into a bird sanctuary managed by the Department of Natural Resources. Shockingly, another fire broke out in April 1974. All but the tower and the hull of the living quarters behind it were destroyed. The Green Island Lighthouse is a haunting ruin hidden among the trees, making it a unique place to visit. There is literally no other lighthouse like it.

South Bass Island Lighthouse

Beacon, Blue, Brick, Brick House
Unusually for the time, it was a two-story brick 45-foot tower that connected to the quarters of the guards.


The South Bass Island Lighthouse is part of the western basin of Lake Erie. This basin is a series of islands halfway between Ohio and Ontario, Canada. By 1890, the islands were a steady source of limestone, cordwood and timber, as well as wine. The opening of Hotel Victory brought a record number of visitors (over 15,000 per year) to the island. Attention was turned to shallow reefs and tricky conditions on the South Passage.

Vessels carrying both goods and tourists passed through this route in great numbers each year. The U.S. Lighthouse Commission decided that he would petition for $8,600 to build a lighthouse to guide them. In August 1894, the authorities approved their request, but it took another three years to complete construction.

The South Bass Island Lighthouse was a rarity for its time. Unusually for the time, it was his two-storey, 45-foot-tall tower of brick that connected to the guard’s quarters. They installed a 4th order Fresnel lens that casts red light on the surface of the water. By the end of 1897 the lighthouse was fully operational.

Over the years, vineyards, peach orchards and agricultural operations all began on the island. In addition, private citizens rented the lighthouse for $66.50 per month.

They automated the lighthouse in 1926 and moved its Fresnel lens to the Lake Erie Island Historical Museum. The U.S. Coast Guard surrendered ownership of the tower to the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Human Services in 1967. The Department of Welfare then sold it to Ohio State University, making it the only lighthouse owned by an American university.

By 1990, the South Bass Island Lighthouse was part of the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, the property was opened to the public for tours. Visitors to the island can enjoy the 1800s barn and oil store as well as the lighthouse. There is also a large state park, and the island offers plenty of camping, fishing, hiking, and kayaking. “Key West” on Lake Erie.

Lorain Lighthouse

The Lorraine Lighthouse has been named “Best Lighthouse on Lake Erie” eight years in a row.

©Lake Front Drone/

The United States Army Corps of Engineers built the Lorain Lighthouse in 1917. Other names include Lorraine Harbor Lights, Harbor Jewels, and Lorraine West Breakwater Lights. It is located just 0.5 miles (800 m) from the coast and is accessed via a long dock. The structure stands as one of the most beautiful and singular lighthouses on the Great Lakes. Congress approved a budget of $35,000 for the lighthouse, which he did as early as 1910. However, they did not complete construction until 1919.

Constructed of concrete, wood and limestone, the tower has three floors and one basement. They developed a lighthouse keeper’s quarters in his 1922 and a 4th order Fresnel lens was in operation until his 1932. From this point onwards, electricity became available to the island.

In 1939, the United States Coast Guard took over control of the lighthouse from its previous operators. It remained in use for another 26 years, but by 1965 the Coast Guard was ready to demolish the structure. They built an automated lighthouse to guide ships along the western side of the harbor. They welded the doors of the old building shut to keep out vandals.

By 1977, the Lighthouse Preservation Commission transferred ownership of the Lorain Lighthouse to the Lorain County Historical Society. The following year, it was registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Lorraine Lighthouse is open to the public for guided tours. There will also be a picnic under fireworks on the 4th of July and a sunset dinner with a selection of wines. During the summer months, citizens host everything from weddings to corporate events to retirement parties at this historic building. The Lorraine Lighthouse has been named “Best Lighthouse on Lake Erie” eight years in a row.

Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse

Tourists often visit the Old Fairport Harbor Lighthouse in its present form as a museum.

©Doug Lemke/

The Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light is a 42-foot tower at the mouth of the Grand River in Fairport Harbor. This area is just east of Cleveland, Ohio. It was completed in 1925 after years of effort to replace the original lighthouse that had been converted into a museum.

Along with the tower, he built a cottage to house the lighthouse keeper who helped maintain the facility. He was first approved to fund the lighthouse in 1917, and Congress agreed to provide him $42,000 to support construction. By 1920, the country had recovered as a result of World War I, but they had only laid the foundations.

The builders built the tower and the custodian’s quarters offsite and traveled 147 miles across the lake in a small wooden steamboat. Additional funding was provided to him in 1924 to allow work to continue on the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light. By 9 June 1925 he had a fourth order Fresnel lens in operation, providing much-needed guidance to merchant ships along busy harbors.

In 1992, authorities added the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse to the National Register of Historic Places. In August 2011, they auctioned the keeper’s quarters to a private citizen, who converted it into a summer house. The lights were eventually automated and are still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Tours of the interior are not open to the public. However, you can get a closer look at this beautiful structure by walking along the grounds’ breakwater. Tourists often visit the Old Fairport Harbor Lighthouse in its present form as a museum. This is the first to be fully devoted to the history of lighthouses on the Great Lakes.


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