Scenic USA - Ohio

Fairport Harbor Breakwater Light

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Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light - Lake County, Ohio,

Photo by Monnie Ryan
Monnie Ryan Photography
Inset photo Fairport Harbor Historical Society

   Fairport Harbor, positioned on the shores of Lake Erie just east of Cleveland and Mentor, has been a hub of activity over the last century. Located at the mouth of Grand River, Fairport Harbor was key in transporting slaves to freedom in Canada during the mid 1800s. After the Civil War, the harbor began receiving tons and tons of iron ore shipments. Brought in from the Mesabi Range in Montana, the ore continued on to steel mills in Pittsburgh and Youngstown.
   The first lighthouse, built to mark the entrance to Fairport Harbor, dates back to the steamboat era. While the original lighthouse no longer exists, its replacement, featuring a handsome stone tower, remains to this day. Remaining an important link in lake-bound commerce, improvements to Fairport Harbor included a mile and a half breakwater. Old Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Museum - Ohio Rendering the shore-based Fairport Lighthouse (inset) ineffective, the West Breakwater Light took over in 1925. When the shore-based light was scheduled to be razed, Fairport citizens rallied to save the old lighthouse. Since 1945, the Old Fairport Harbor Light-station has doubled as a maritime museum, with an outstanding collection of maritime equipment, photos and displays. The original 3rd order Fresnel lens is also on display, as well as models of lake-going freighters and ore boats.
   The Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse is not open for public tours, but itís possible to walk the mile and a half breakwater to get a close-up view. From Mentor's Headlands Beach State Park, one of Cleveland's popular lakeshore areas, lighthouse fans may get a great view of the breakwater light.

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