I took a quick trip down to Port Clinton, Ohio to see if I could catch a bit of the moving of its lighthouse from a private marina to a park near the city's downtown on the Lake Erie shoreline.
I caught up with the lighthouse just as workers finished removing it from the crane that held it to the barge and the truck it traveled on, leaving the lighthouse standing on its own again on the shore of Lake Erie.
Controversy surrounded discussions regarding the need for a light at Port Clinton since folks proposed it and it first appeared at the city in 1832. The discussions continued through its first closure in 1859, a reactivation in 1864 and another closure (this time supposedly for good) in 1870.
The lighthouse originally had a stone tower and dwelling. Keepers looked after the site through the late 1800s, while the government approved a new pierhead light to mark the harbor with the extension of piers into Lake Erie from either side of the Portage River at Port Clinton.
The square wooden lighthouse soon sat on the pier, going into service in 1896.
Meanwhile, Congress also approved razing the old light tower and dwelling. The pierhead light keeper lived in the new dwelling ashore by 1900 and keepers continued to care for the lighthouse until its automation in the mid-1920s.
The government sold the onshore site and keepers' dwelling to a doctor in 1927 that used it as a residence for nurses. In 1945, the next owner turned into a beauty shop and several apartments. Next, it became a restaurant in 1983 that closed in 2009 when after a suspicious fire broke out in the structure's basement.
Meanwhile, a local marina owner purchased the wooden pierhead light tower in 1952 and moved it to his private marina when a small skeletal structure replaced it at the pierhead with a small light.
In 2011, the current marina owners donated the wooden light tower to Port Clinton seeing it as an attraction for the downtown area.
The city moved the lighthouse to a nearby workshop and the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy began raising money for its restoration and hopes for moving it back downtown to Waterworks Park. It took the next five years to finally iron out legal agreements over the relocation and ownership issues.
Finally, a barge bearing the lighthouse moved it down the Portage River to the Waterworks Park---which is where I took these photos.
A light rain and a bit of wind kicked up while I lingered as the crowd in the park left for home, and I took these photos before I left for own trip back home to metro Detroit.
Check out the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy page at Facebook to see a re-post of a video about the recent restoration of the lighthouse a link to a YouTube video about this week's moving day (along with some great aerial shots of the process). You can also hear a bit more about the move in this NPR story.
Read Port Clinton, The Peninsula, and the Bass Islands (OH) by Sally Sue Witten or check out a small collection of souvenirs with vintage images of the little lighthouse on the pier like this coffee mug.
Also check out nearby lighthouses: History and Mystery at Ohio's South Bass Island Lighthouse, Cedar Point lighthouse: Rescuing a nearly forgotten beacon and (one of my first stories here at Midwest Guest) A day at Marblehead Lighthouse.
© Dominique King 2016 All rights reserved