It sounds crazy, a lighthouse without a light, but it’s true. The lovely little landmark on the shores of Lake Erie in Vermilion, Ohio is a 34-foot “private navigational aid” with a lineage that reaches back to the 1800s.
The original wooden tower was replaced in about 1877 with a steel structure and stood as a warning to sailors until 1929. The tower was seen to be in danger of falling over and so was promptly removed. A valued piece of scenery, a reminder of Vermilion’s history was gone.
Members of the community put together enough funds that in 1991, construction of a new lighthouse was commissioned for the city. The light, with a Fresnel lens installed, was dedicated on June 6, 1992. For many years a steady red beacon shined out over the lake until fate stepped in again. The lens, owned by the Inland Seas Maritime Museum that shares the shoreline property with the little lighthouse, was removed when the museum closed up shop recently and moved to Toledo.
The treasured lighthouse is now dark.
Citizens have formed a Lighthouse Preservation Committee, dedicated to preservation and upkeep of the Vermilion Lighthouse and central to their mission: replacement of the Fresnel lens and return of light to the lighthouse.
Here’s hoping the coming year brings quick success as the Committee seeks to raise $40,500 for a new lens!
Donations can be mailed, payable to:
Main Street Vermilion
Attn: Lighthouse Preservation Committee
685 Main Street
Vermilion, OH 44089
Note: Online donation is possible but I did not see a way to earmark donations for the lighthouse project.
Main Street Vermilion
Spending a cold and cloudy Saturday trying to declutter, I came across a couple of antique photographs I’d nearly forgotten about. Lost in stacks of documents, the two pictures represent points of history, my family’s history (apparently), in Ohio and in Arkansas! On the back of the mounted “Mother Guilford” photo is the handwritten inscription: “this is Mother Guilford’s bro. John + wife at their home in War Eagle. Ark. Benton Co.” I didn’t know I had relatives in Arkansas but it looks like quite a family in this picture, filling the front porch!
The second image, labeled “Big Locust Farm” was taken April 15, 1903, according to a handwritten note. The printed label reads, “Big Locust Farm, Capt. J.J. Waffle, R.F.D., No. 3 / Delta, O. / Phone — Via Wauseon 5 rings on Winameg line.” I don’t know if Capt. Waffle was any relation to me nor do I know if he was the subject of the photo (with two other folks) or the photographer! Capt. Waffle would be a good name for a kids’ sweetened breakfast food.
So far these are the most valuable artifacts I’ve uncovered in my efforts this day. Mostly, I uncovered dust.
I have long had an interested in printing and publishing and today, during a visit to Vermilion, Ohio, learned of the Vermilion News Print Shop Museum. Just off the city’s main street stands a two-story house with a storefront where the front door might have been located. The building and equipment served as a print shop and a weekly paper from 1905 – 1964, the whole time owned and operated by the same family. Family members lived upstairs from the business and worked various jobs downstairs.
A family member today is developing the shop as a museum illustrating not only the history of the family business but of printing technology and, increasingly, that of Vermilion.
It amazing how much heavy-duty printing equipment is crammed into the shop: “The print shop houses two linotypes (c. 1915) and four letter presses: Stonemetz 2 Revolution Newspaper Press (c. 1919), Kelly Press (c. 1917), Chandler and Price 8″ x 12″ Gordon Jobber Press (c. 1900), Heidelberg Windmill Press (c. 1954).”
There is much work ahead as the museum, only a year old, is developed. At least one of the presses will be put in working order and used for demonstrations. There are historic engraved plates and glass photographic negatives to be printed and documented. There are artifacts and treasures to be discovered and displayed. Personal tours are offered during museum hours and admission is by donation; visit, enjoy, and be generous!
We saw a news item about the Thursday dedication of a new area within the Lake Metroparks: Chair Factory Falls. Today was a beautiful day for a trip there so, after quick shopping for the week’s groceries, we headed out. The Falls turned out to be probably the most beautiful natural water feature I’ve seen in the Northeastern Ohio area and were a short walk from a convenient parking lot. We encountered a couple of people who warned us that the hike back out of the gorge was tough but worth the effort. They underestimated our vigor for while the path out was steep, it was an easy climb for the two of us and more than worth the effort. Of course the cameras came with us and we shot many photos but I’ll show only two here. The parking lot was adjacent to the Metroparks’ Old Stone School landmark. Stone walls, fallen leaves, and an antique water pump made for a rustic scene.
I just watched an excellent program on PBS's NOVA tonight … Telescope: Hunting the Edge of Space. This was part one and entitled, "The Mystery of the Milky Way," but that really didn't matter. The film was a wonderful telling of the history of the astronomical telescope and the state of the science today. Part two comes next week. The program can be seen online or on your local PBS station. Check here for program details, local times, background, and much more: Telescope: Hunting the Edge of Space.
When I visited the PBS site I was surprised and delighted to see that, just in time for his birthday, the network will be broadcasting The Buddha, a film by David Grubin, premiering April 7 at 8 PM EST (check local listings). Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born about 450 BC and April 8 (Thursday, this week) is the day it is observed. Happy birthday! Yes, I'm thinkin' cake Buddhist style … cake with no attachments: you can't have it and eat it too!
This is good stuff! I guess I'm gonna have to renew my PBS membership!
Thank you PBS!