on January 20, 2007
Marblehead Lighthouse has been called the best known and most photographed feature on the Great Lakes. While the surrounding park encompasses just 13 acres of land, vantage points for viewing and taking pictures are afforded at just about every angle. My husband and I know this as well as anyone; we've been among the devoted legions of picture-takers for many years now.For the record, there's no better time than fall to pay a visit; during October, the foliage turns to gorgeous reds, oranges and golds, creating a colorful framework for the lighthouse. That's one of the reasons the annual Marblehead Lighthouse Festival is held in October. Visitors can see numerous displays, sample some delicious foods and, most important, tour the lighthouse itself from 10am to 4pm.The lighthouse, which is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes, seems to take on a different persona, photography-wise, in different weather conditions and times of day. The cone-shaped 65-foot tower was built in 1821; the base, 25 feet in diameter, tapers off to 25 feet at the top. The distinctive green beacon, which flashes every six seconds, can be seen for 11 nautical miles.The original lightkeeper's house, now a museum operated by the Ottawa County Historical Society, is located some distance away. In 1880, a house was built on what it is now the park ground. That building now contains a museum and gift shop. And tiny as the grounds may be, we've never found a shortage of people enjoying the views from one of the several picnic tables and benches strategically placed on the property. Tours are offered regularly during summer months, allowing visitors to climb the 87-step spiral staircase to the fenced-in outer rim, where the views of the Lake Erie-Sandusky Bay area are spectacular. The tall roller coasters of the popular Cedar Point Amusement Park can be seen as well. And while the rocky shores near the lighthouse make it impossible for boats to dock here, other interesting views can be obtained from the main highway a mile or two outside the park.There's still another way to capture great views; hop on a ferry that's heading for nearby Put-In-Bay or Kelley's Island, both of which contain state parks (South Bass Island and Kelley's Island). For the record, when you're in Marblehead, you're also in close proximity to East Harbor, Catawba Island and Crane Creek state parks as well as a number of state nature preserves and marshes.But wait, there's more! Still another don't-miss place is Johnson's Island, just on the other side of town on Sandusky Bay. This 300-acre property, is the site of a Union prison for Confederate officers during the American Civil War. While it's not a state or national park, the adjoining cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic. Landmarks; of an estimated 10,000 inmates who occupied the prison over a three-year period, some 300 died and are buried here.
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