Lake Erie Lighthouses and Maritime Museums

Beyond their majesty and mystique, Lake Erie's lighthouses serve important maritime duties. For some, these duties have diminished over the years as technology increased. Event those lighthouses whose duties are replaced with hi-tech innovations still serve as valuable landmarks for boaters and mainland visitors.

Lighthouses on the Great Lakes
Lighthouses in the United States began appearing as early as 1716 along the Atlantic coast, a time when the Great Lakes region was largely vast wilderness. As settlers later arrived to the Great Lakes, boat traffic increased with the need for transportation and commerce. The first two lighthouses on the Great Lakes were built in 1818 at Buffalo and Presque Isle in Erie, PA. The oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes is Ohio's Marblehead Lighthouse, operating since 1822.

Who Kept the Lights?
The federal Treasury Department first managed lighthouses. In 1852, after years of dealing with issues reported by inspectors, Congress created the United States Light House Services. This board established 12 lighthouse districts, each with its own supervisor. An army engineer officer supervised new construction and repairs, and regional distribution centers provided many supplies. In 1910, the Bureau of Lighthouses was formed. This civilian group oversaw a period of rapid technological development. Automation, electricity, radio and electronic buoys transformed the efficiency and effectiveness of lighthouses. The U.S. Coast Guard eventually took charge of overseeing the nation's lighthouses. The last 50 years included rapid advancements in radio and satellite navigation technology. Faced with rising costs of operating and maintaining lighthouses under their care, the U.S. Coast Guard began looking for organizations interested in taking over some of these beacons. As these lighthouses become available, local nonprofit groups have stepped forward to purchase and preserve these important icons.

Tap on a Lighthouse name to learn more