Conneaut is about as far northeast in Ohio possible without landing in Pennsylvania. Located along an old Native American hunting trail, the town got its name from the small stream that flows into Lake Erie. That stream was named Konyiat which it was thought to be the Seneca name for place of many fish. However, there is some disagreement as to this definition. Others suggest it might mean "standing stone." Whatever the original meaning was has been buried in the sands of time.
On July 4, 1796 Moses Cleaveland along with 50 other men women and children arrived at Konyiat Creek and celebrated the fact that they had arrived in Ohio. After celebrating their arrival into Ohio Country, the small group raised an American flag and christened the new location as Port Independence. Most of the group later moved further west to their stated goal of setting up an establishment at the Cuyahoga River that would later become known as Cleveland.
One family remained at the site called Port Independence. That was James Kingsbury, his wife and 3 children. Ill prepared for the ordeals they would soon Kingsbury built a hasty shelter. With his wife pregnant and unable to travel, food supplies almost exhausted, and winter coming on, James set off back to New Hampshire for additional supplies to get them through the winter. By the time he returned his wife was near dead from starvation, but she survived. She would later give birth to a baby that would become the first white child born in the Western Reserve of northern Ohio. The baby soon died, but Mrs. Kingsbury would recover.
In the 19th century, Conneaut became a shipping port for grain, whiskey and forestry products. To help with this shipping a lighthouse was built to guide the ships. In fact over the years several lighthouses have been built.
Today Conneaut is a peaceful city where visitors can shop for flowers, furniture, crafts, specialty candy, sportswear, and souvenirs. Purchase memorabilia at our Historical Railroad Museum or fine wines at our vineyards. Visit the new Artisan Shoppe at the Conneaut Community Center. And, if you're a fisherman, Conneaut is known for their world class steelhead and walleye fishing.
Conneaut Breakwater Lighthouse
Upon completion in 1936, the 11,000-candlepower light source atop the shaft produced a beam that could be seen 17 miles out into Lake Erie. The tower also housed a fog horn that would blast air through a 3.5" pipe and metal vibrator. The resulting sound could be heard from about 15 miles. In its early years, the lighthouse was controlled remotely from a shore house by a keeper and two assistants. As ice prohibited travel on the lakes during the winter, the light was inactive from December 25 to March 1. During this break, the keepers would alternate taking vacations.
In May of 2007, the lighthouse, deemed excess by the Coast Guard, was offered at no cost to eligible entities, including federal, state, and local agencies, non-profit corporations, and educational organizations. When no qualified owner was found, an online auction for the lighthouse was initiated on September 9, 2008. No bids were received during September, but Gary Zaremba, president of Artisan Restoration Group of New York, eventually submitted a winning bid of $35,000. This wasn't the first lighthouse purchased Zaremba, as he also won the auction for Maine's Lubec Channel Lighthouse in 2007.
Zaremba visited the Conneaut Lighthouse during the spring of 2009, and when he was unable to find a boat to take him out to his light, he waded across the harbor, scaled the detached breakwater, and walked out to the tower. Calling the acquisition of the lighthouse "a fun, interesting opportunity," Zaremba plans to open the structure to guided tours and believes that some day he may offer overnight stays in the lighthouse, whose first and second floors are the size of an average living room.
Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum
Take a tour of the Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum, located in the 1900 New York Central Station in Conneaut. The Museum offers railroad artifacts and local history.
The highlights include model engines, steam locomotives, freight cars, and other railroad equipment. Besides rare items, such as an 1866 Stock Certificate of the Red River Line (NYC) and relics from the Ashtabula Bridge Disaster of 1876 are large displays of lanterns, timetables, passes and old photos.
There are several large scale models of locomotives and equipment along with smaller gauge models. Outside you'll find an entire full size train, including Nickel Plate Berkshire #755.
Conneaut Railroad Museum
363 Depot St