South Bass Island Lighthouse – 1987 To Present!
For over 100 years, the South Bass Island Lighthouse has been greeting visitors on the southern point of the island. It was first lit in 1897. It has played an essential part in Put-in-Bay’s history, and the lighthouse is much the same as it was when first built.
Tours Of The South Bass Island Lighthouse
The lighthouse is operated by the Ohio Sea Grant. The South Bass Island Lighthouse is available for tours on scheduled dates from June-October. Groups can schedule tours from April – November by arranging with the Stone Lab Bayview office at Put-in-Bay.
Visitors will learn about the area’s history and the challenges facing Lake Erie.
Included in the tour is a trek to the top of the lighthouse, which serves up a stunning view. The Ohio Sea Grant is also manages Gibraltar Island, Cooke’s Castle, and the Aquatic Visitors Center. Another vital task is their research at the Stone Laboratory in conjunction with the Ohio State University. The center serves as the Marine Biology extension of Ohio State.
Visitors then climb the stairs of the lighthouse to take in stunning views of Put-in-Bay and Lake Erie. The lighthouse is included in the National Register of Historic Places; The property is open to the public from dawn to dusk. On occasion, the grounds may be closed for a private event.
South Bass Island Lighthouse History
Funds for a lighthouse were requested in 1890 from the United States Lighthouse Board. It took several years to raise the $8600 needed for the construction. The lighthouse was initially designed to be placed to raise the northern tip. Soon after it was designed, Lieutenant Charles T. Platt decided that the extreme southernmost tip of the island would be a much more practical place for a new lighthouse. He was so sure, and he even carved “LH” into a tree located on the site.
The lighthouse is a different style than the typical design of the day. The structure consisted of the large, two-and-a-half story, red brick home with a twelve-foot-square tower attached to the home. Overall the height is forty-five feet tall and equipped with a fourth-order L. Sautter & Cie Fresnel style lens that produces a fixed red light signaling danger from the use of a ruby chimney in its lamp.
The lighthouse was lit for the first time in 1897 by its keeper Harry H. Riley. The lighthouse performed its evening duties during the busy Lake Erie shipping season, which runs from March to late December. After Mr. Riley’s untimely death, Mrs. Riley took charge of operating the lighthouse.
Charles Duggan became the next South Bass Island Lighthouse. He cultivated the surrounding land with a vineyard that occupied over eight acres. Duggan fell to his death in 1925. The vast and varied history of the lighthouse makes for another impressive monument at Put-in-Bay.
The South Bass Island Lighthouse is currently part of the OSU research facility and its academic staff. In 2007, the lighthouse and grounds were opened to the public. Later, the university decided to start offering popular tours during the summer. Today, the lighthouse is equipped with a modernized replacement light and still provides navigation aids to ships on Lake Erie.
A barn that was built in 1899 barn and the oil house built in 1897 still occupy places on the property. Visitors are encouraged to bring a camera as some of the best views of the Lake Can be found here.
South Bass Island Lighthouse Nearby Points Of Interest
The lighthouse occupies the southern end of the island. Nearby Joes Bar is the closest place to grab a bite to eat. The nearby Maple Leaf Cemetery is a neat place to walk thru and see some of the family names responsible for Put-in-Bay as you see it today. The Put-in-Bay Airport on the way offers helicopter rides and Bi-Plane rides for those seeking a little thrill! The South Bass Island State Park nearby is a beautiful place to stop for a picnic lunch or a quick dip in the Lake. Jet Ski Rentals are located near the public boat ramp, which is free to use.