News and views, and history and humor, about the lake I love.

"I can hear my granddad's stories of the storms out on Lake Erie, where vessels and cargos and fortunes, and sailors' lives were lost." ~ James Taylor, Millworker

Friday, August 26, 2011

Toledo Lighthouse Open to Public for First time in Over 50 Years

Photo credit: Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society
Like a weary sentinel, the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse sit atop a crib about five miles offshore, marking the entrance to the Toledo Shipping Channel where Lake Erie and Maumee Bay meet. Its light has been shining out over the lake for more over a century and now, for the first time in over fifty years, the public will have an opportunity to go inside.

There will be tours of the lighthouse from 11 am thru 5 pm on August 27 & 28. There is limited availability (18 per hour on Saturday and 22 per hour on Sunday). To tour the lighthouse, you have to be able to climb a rung ladder - about six rungs to the lighthouse deck - and sign a waiver of liability form. There are 76 steps to the top. Three stories in the homelike part and three stories in the tower. Tours will be in small groups of 6 or 10 leaving from the marina at Maumee Bay State Park. The cost is $40. The trip includes the boat ride and tour that will last about 1 hour and 20 minutes (about 30-40 minutes at the lighthouse). Tickets can be obtained at the Toledo Antique & Classic Boat Show or by calling 419-367-1691. A credit card will secure the reservation but will not be charged until the day of the tours. Tours are weather dependent. There must be little to no wind. If trips are canceled they will be posted on the Toledo Lighthouse web site. There may also be an opportunity for a September weekend tour. If the August 27, 28 tour is weather cancelled, those registered will be given the opportunity to go on the September tour.

An imposing, if somewhat drab, structure, the Army Corps of Engineers designed the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse and construction began in 1901. The structure was completed three years later at a cost of $152,000. The Toledo Lighthouse is four stories high with a steel frame and an attached one-story fog signal annex building. The lighthouse stands 85 feet in height. First illuminated May 23, 1904, the 3-½ order Fresnel lens featured a 180-degree bulls eye, two smaller 60-degree bulls eyes and a ruby red half cylinder glass made in Paris, France by Barbier and Bernard. A weighted clockwork mechanism made the light rotate. The original Fennel lens could be seen from up to twenty-four miles. The original lens is located at the Imagination Station, a children's science center in downtown Toledo, Ohio.

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