Taking advantage of a cold but sunny Sunday afternoon, we made a quick trip to the shore of Lake Erie. The shoreline was piled with snow-covered ice, in wave-shaped mounds parallel to the coast. Ice that formed on a guard rail made glistening caramel-colored curtains, even walls, joining the steel tubes of the framework to each other and to the ground. And a stream flowed beneath a bright, snowy ice layer, visible sometimes, down a rocky fall and, under cover ice once again, to the lake. Nice to see the lake again.
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
I spent a happy, lazy morning watching a thunderhead bloom and disperse from the shores of Lake Erie. I’d seen a very photogenic cloud developing over my area earlier in the day but was not in a position to get a good shot — we’re at a high elevation here but there are obstructions everywhere blocking the view! So after grocery shopping I headed for the lakefront. As I drew closer to the lake, I could see there was an interesting cloud blowing up in the distance. Fortunately, the far away storm developed slowly, allowing me to reach the lake and even change location. I started out in Bay Village, and finished my vigil on the fishing pier in Avon Lake. As the storm began to weaken, it stretched out over the water and even developed a halo! Checking weather radar I learned the storm was all the way across Lake Erie on the southern shores of Canada! A pleasant morning of cloud watching indeed and why not, it’s Saturday, after all!
On an errand, I paid a quick visit to the beach today, really to see the lake and not swim or sun! The skies were mostly hazy and cloudy when I arrived but, as I walked a breakwall, some clearing happened. I got a very few interesting shots out on the wall: water rushing over gull-perched submerged stones, open water beyond. The most interesting image of the day, to my eye, was a grab shot taken at the top of the long climb from beach to parking lot: a jet ski bobbed along on the lake under cloud-decorated blue sky as a beach-goer shook sand from her towel. It was almost as though the woman was using her beach towel as a signal flag for the speeding boat.
My timing worked out perfectly again this evening! I had been watching on radar as an approaching line of storms ran along a cold front hoping for another opportunity for dramatic weather photography. On a hunch I climbed into the car after dinner and headed to the Lake Erie shoreline at Bay Village, Ohio. No sooner did I arrive at the parking lot and start the short hike to the shore than I spotted it… an amazing, thin line of clouds known as a gust front approaching from the west. I shot a good number of photos of the clouds but adding to the image was a man standing nearly waist-deep in the water as the weather approached. Yes, there was a little lightning and thunder and yes, he should have gotten out of the lake as his relative urged from the shore. Time to come in! Fortunately the wader escaped harm. Behind the gust front I could see the effects of the, well, gusts: the lake water was darkening as wind-driven waves formed. The rain, this time, did not drive me from my perch but had the courtesy to begin after I was safely back in my car.
I watched weather radar for several hours yesterday as a line of storms approached our area; it looked interesting. The line had a strong arc to it offering the possibility of photogenic afternoon storm clouds. So I headed to the Lake Erie shoreline and a view off Bay Village, Ohio. The drive was an adventure in itself as I encountered strong winds and heavy rains. I worried the cold front had arrived early and I might be out of luck but, I remembered, there was an intense, crescent-shaped storm out ahead of the line — driving through I should encounter dryer weather and a shot at the “real deal.” And so it was! As I approached the lake, I saw curved lines in the clouds overhead … lines that corresponded to shapes I could see on weather radar. I couldn’t stop to photograph those and so continued to my observation post. Hurrying down to waters’ edge, I saw an expansive arc of clouds stretching from the southwest to the northeast and out over the lake. Not a sharply-defined line as I might have hoped for but dramatic, nonetheless. I had time for a few single shots and a couple of groupings to be assembled into a panorama and had to run again … I could see a curtain of rain moving in! As I drove home through sheets of rain I smiled; timing and luck were with me today and I had my trophy shot of the day! P.S. – That’s not a tornado!
Today we made a little exploratory tour along the south shore of Lake Erie between Bay Village and Vermilion. Most of the trip was pleasant enough but started out under gray, featureless skies. By the time we reached Vermilion, however, the clouds had mostly dissipated allowing warm and cheering sunshine to bathe us. On the lake, off Vermilion, the icy cover had begun to break up; gulls sat and screed on thin ice and open water. Winter is losing its grip on our lake and land and spring is coming on the wings of gulls.