Sunday, July 20, 2014

On The Shores of Lake Erie

We are back in Ohio, parked in East Harbor State Park.  Too bad we don't fish,  the western basin of Lake Erie has the best fishing of all the Great Lakes combined.  East Harbor Park is situated on a peninsula of land stretching into the waters of Lake Erie.   The history of Lake Erie, as well as all the Great Lakes, goes back to the Pleistocene Ice Age when glaciers came grinding down from the north.  In the area of Ohio massive sheets of ice gouged and scoured the bedrock of the land in East Harbor park (and other areas on the shores of Lake Erie) where there is evidence of  glacial grooves or striations.    
In the first two days we have been here we have hiked Middle Harbor, which is near our campground.  It is a game sanctuary where black-crowned night herons, egrets, great blue herons and other shorebirds find refuge.  We have seen many of those shore birds,feeding in the shallow waters of Lake Erie.  Yesterday, Friday, we drove to the Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes.
The lighthouse was built in 1821.  Currently it has an LED green light which flashes every 6 seconds and can be seen for 11 nautical miles.  Over the years the lighthouse has used oil, lard, coal and kerosene lamps to incandescent electric and LED light.  We climbed all 72 steps to the top of the lighthouse where we looked over the waters of Lake Erie to the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Put In  Bay, as well as the keeper’s house which was directly below us.  It was built at the same time as the lighthouse.

From Marblehead we drove to Johnson Island, the site of a Civil War prison camp for Confederate Officers.  The Island in recent years has seen lots of development, and we found only a couple of makers noting the island's historic importance.  The prison’s cemetery, however, is still present on the island, preserved by the Federal government in 1932.   In 1890 206 marble markers replaced the hand carved wooden grave markers, courtesy of the citizens of Georgia.  Reportedly 9,000 men passed through the gates of the prison during the Civil War.  Some resources indicate that more than 300 died while imprisoned on the island.   The cemetery is pictured below, a brass figure of a soldier stands guard over it- he is the “Lookout”.
The cemetery is only a short distance from the shores of Lake Erie

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