TOLEDO HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY
The Toledo Harbor Light is located about five miles north of Maumee Bay State Park's
shores. The lighthouse marks the entrance to the Toledo Shipping Channel where Lake Erie
and Maumee Bay meet. Boaters are generally destined for the Maumee River.
In 1897 the Toledo shipping channel was dredged wider and deeper to allow increased shipping to the Port of Toledo located in the Maumee River, furthering the need for a new lighthouse. The Army Corps of Engineers designed the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse and construction began in 1901. A 20-foot deep stone crib is at the base of the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse. The Toledo Lighthouse is four stories high with a steel frame and an attached one-story fog signal annex building. The Lighthouse has Romanesque arches and buff brick. Its original cost was $152,000. The total height is 85 feet. First illuminated May 23, 1904, the 3-½ order Fresnel lens featured a 180-degree bulls eye, two smaller 60-degree bulls eyes and a ruby red half cylinder glass made in Paris, France by Barbier and Bernard. A weighted clockwork mechanism made the light rotate. The original Fennel lens could be seen from up to twenty-four miles. The original lens was removed by helicopter in 1995. For about ten years, the lens was at COSI in Toledo. The Toledo Lighthouse now displays the lens at Maumee Bay State Park in the lodge which can be seen 24/7.
In 1966 the light was automated and Coast Guard keepers no longer manned the lighthouse. To prevent vandalism, a uniformed mannequin officer was placed in the window and the windows in the lower floors were boarded, the boat basin removed. Through the years there were two uniformed officer mannequins but only one remains. She has a blond wig and is fondly known as Sarah. Coast Guardsmen assigned to maintain the light sign the mannequin. With the lure of the mannequins, ghost stories came about. In 1985 the light was removed and replaced with a new small efficient lens. The lighthouse was first operated under the U.S. Lighthouse Service with living quarters for the chief, assistant keeper and their families. The basement had seven rooms including a commissary, general store, furnace etc. The Coast Guard now maintains the Toledo Light. The overall condition of the Toledo Light House is good. The inside is empty, except for Sarah, the Mannequin, in the second story window. The lighthouse has 4,000 square feet.