Visit Lake Erie Coastal Ohio, a journey through the history of Lake Erie. From its geological foundation to its role in building America, its lure for early settlers to its near-demise by industrial run-offs, Lake Erie is a shining example of ecological restoration and hope. Learn about more than 250 Discovery Sites where you can experience the natural beauty, historical tales and outdoor recreation available along Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline. The more than 290 mile route closely follows the Lake Erie coastline from Conneaut on the east side to downtown Toledo on the west side. The byway mostly follows SR 2 and US 6 but also includes other local and state routes. The Lake Erie Coastal Trail is the second longest byway in Ohio. For a detailed look at the Lake Erie Coastal Trail please visit their Web site at: www.coastalohio.com or call 1.419.609.0399 for additional information.
Oak Openings Nature Preserve, Toledo - The Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in Toledo used to be part of an extensive patchwork of oak savannas that at one point covered 30 million acres and represented a unique meeting of the western prairies with the dense Eastern forest. Sand dunes and beach ridges that once bordered an ancient pre-Lake Erie formation are found at this 3,600-acre site. Visitors can purchase native plants at nearby nurseries labeled “Oak Opening Native” that are grown from species collected from this uniquely wild site. www.metroparkstoledo.com
Canal Experience at Providence MetroPark, Grand Rapids - Transportation to and from Lake Erie followed rivers, with development close behind. The Miami and Erie Canal story can be lived at this unique park. Visitors take canal boat rides on The Volunteer, a mule-drawn replica, through a restored lock and along more than a mile of the Miami and Erie Canal. The boat is crewed by historic interpreters in period clothing. The canal-era town of Grand Rapids is located along the rapids of the Maumee River. Visitors tour the restored Isaac Ludwig Mill, which operated on waterpower and contains belt-driven grist and saw machinery. Contact: www.metroparkstoledo.com
Fort Meigs, Perrysburg Early military action occurred where nature gave the best advantage. Located off Route 65, this Fort is an important site operated in partnership with the Ohio Historical Society. Considerable portions of the original earthworks remain of this former strategic command post. Built in 1813 to protect northwest Ohio from British invasion, this reconstruction will be one of the largest log forts in America. British and Canadian troops, assisted by Indians under Tecumseh, besieged the fort twice. Both failed and the British retreated after the second. Fort Meigs State recently underwent an extensive renovation, bringing the story of this fort to life. Contact: (419) 874-4121 www.ohiohistory.org/places/ftmeigs or www.fortmeigs.org
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor Named a Regional Shorebird Reserve Area and one of the top migratory spots in the United States, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and its neighboring Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge are remnants of the Great Black Swamp, a massive swamp that once covered most of northwest Ohio. The creek which flows through Magee Marsh (Crane Creek) undoubtedly owes its name to the great blue heron and egrets, which are abundant in the marsh habitat (but unfortunately misidentified as cranes.) This 2,600-acre marsh features more than 300 species of birds. A boardwalk and Sportsman’s Migratory Bird Center welcome visitors into this spectacular world of nature. Contact: (419) 898-0960
South Bass Island & Put-in-Bay Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, South Bass Island Lake Erie became a strategic win during the War of 1812. On Sept. 10, 1813, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated and captured a British squadron of warships at the Battle of Lake Erie. The battle, fought during the War of 1812, secured control of Lake Erie for the United States. This 352-foot tall Doric column commemorates the battle and stands as a symbol of international peace. Visit the visitors center and watch a film, browse exhibits and shop an extensive library of historical books. Contact: (419) 285-2184 or www.nps.gov/pevi/
Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum The history of the islands is interpreted at this museum located in the Village of Put-in-Bay. Learn about the islands’ early boats, winemaking, hotels, and history. Unique artifacts, special events, and programming can be found. Contact: (419) 285-2804 www.leihs.org
Fall is one of the best times to visit the Lake Erie Islands. The temperature from the lake keeps the air warmer than inland temperatures. It’s harvest time for local wineries, and the crowds are less. Transportation to South Bass Island is available by the Jet Express (www.jet-express.com) from Port Clinton and Sandusky or Miller Boat Line (www.millerferry.com) from Catawba. Call the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau 1-800-441-1271 for ferry schedules and events listings.
Marblehead - Approximately 400 million years ago, ancient seas covered the land that was to become Ohio. Sediment from these early tropical seas compressed and formed bedrock. In Marblehead, this limestone bedrock is mined. Watch the conveyor belt move the stone across Route 163 onto a waiting freighter. Visit the Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest continuously-operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. Gift shops, many with nautical knick-knacks and some with authentic decoy carvings, are located in Marblehead. Contact: 800-441-1271, www.lake-erie.com
Kelleys Island Contact: 1-800-255-ERIE www.buckeyenorth.com The Glacial Grooves are the largest accessible proof of glacier carving in the world. Scoured into limestone about 18,000 years ago by a great ice sheet, these grooves are an impressive statement to nature’s immense force.
Old Woman Creek State Nature Preserve, Huron This 571-acre site is one of the best remaining natural estuaries. An estuary is a place where freshwater meets and mingles with another body of water, creating a unique chemically enriched ecosystem that supports many unusual forms of life. A barrier beach, walking trails, and a new visitors center interpret this area to the visitor. A new visitors center opened in 2003, built with extensive sustainable building materials. Contact: www.oldwomancreek.org
Maritime Museums in Sandusky and Vermilion The Maritime Museum of Sandusky contains a collection highlighting boats used and built near Sandusky Bay. A winter lecture program is offered, as is a wooden boat-building school. www.sanduskymaritime.org The Inland Seas Maritime Museum in Vermilion overlooks the Vermilion Harbor breakwall. Interpretation chronicles the story of shipping and sailing on the Great Lakes. www.inlandseas.org
Vermilion River Reservation This 1,026-acre park borders the Vermilion River. Green-backed herons, soft-shelled turtles, rainbow darters and an incredible list of other wildlife call the river home. As the river meanders through the reservation, it carves towering shale cliffs. Hiking trails, shelters, and interpretive programs accentuate this incredible natural environment. Contact: www.loraincountymetroparks.com/vermilion.html
Oberlin Lake Erie was a path to freedom for runaway slaves. The right to equality was expressed at Oberlin College, the first institution of higher learning to admit women and among the first to enroll African-Americans. Oberlin was also a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Lovingly preserved homes, the Westwood Cemetery, Martin Luther King Jr. Park and other monuments and landmarks-as well as cultural events-reflect the area's sense of dedication and purpose to people of all races. The Monroe House is one of three buildings restored by the Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization. Although the house dates from the Civil War period, Monroe’s work as an abolitionist is central to the interpretation. Contact: 1-800-334-1673 www.lcvb.org
Fairport Harbor Lighthouse & Marine Museum located at 129 Second Street Fairport Harbor 44077 in Lake County (440) 354-4825 This National Historic site consists of a marine museum and lighthouse tower that is open to the public and provides spectacular views of Lake Erie. The marine museum houses its' original 3rd order Fresnel lens, the Frontenac pilothouse, nautical artifacts, and more. Open 1 to 6 p.m. on Wed., Sat., Sun. and holidays from Memorial Day through 2nd weekend in Sept. Group tours by appt http://www.ncweb.com/org/fhlh/
Lake County History Center - 8610 King Memorial Road, Kirtland Hills 44060 (440) 255-8979 Your “Gateway to the Western Reserve,” this turn of the century summer estate home is surrounded by 20 acres of grounds containing the Lake County museum, Hands On History Village, walking trails, picnic areas, and gift shop. The 20th Anniversary of the Little Mountain Folk Festival will be held July 30-31, 2005 featuring 7 music stages, 150 east coast vendors, Food Court in the Woods and the Enchanted Forest children’s area. Free parking. Home of 1860’s baseball and the Myths, Legends and Graveyard Tours. Operated by the Lake County Historical Society, the Center offers numerous tours, step-on-guides and bus navigators for the Lake County area.