PORT CLINTON — Despite the tumultuous and uncertain waters presented by not only COVID-19, but also the strong storms at times battering the local Lake Erie coast, one historical icon remains standing as tall — the Port Clinton Lighthouse, a beacon to many near and far, as well as to those who keep it.
“The health of our conservancy is quite good,” said Rich Norgard, president of the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy.
As social distancing began to ease up last year, Norgard said the conservancy hosted a total of 218 tours of the lighthouse in 2021 and the group is planning to keep it open as much as they can going forward.
“We are committed to keeping the lighthouse open to people who want to see it on the inside,” he said. “It’s a very unique structure — we get requests for groups all the time. We’re very accommodating to those requests.”
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It is the last remaining pier light of its kind on Lake Erie and one of the few on all of the Great Lakes, according to Norgard.
A memorial to the keeps of the light
That light is kept lit 24 hours a day, seven days a week, another commitment the conservancy has been able to keep since making the promise last year.
They also recently installed two new plaques, which Norgard recommended to anyone who has not yet seen them recently to go take a look. Engraved is a list of every Port Clinton Lighthouse keeper dating back to 1833.
“It honors all those lighthouse keepers over the years, and the late Darrell Brand, who helped save it,” he said.
In other work completed over the past year, they added the new large green Port Clinton Lighthouse sign along Perry Street, repaired parts of the paving that were washed out by a storm, and fixed the drainage issues, which Norgard said seems to be working pretty well.
This upcoming year’s plan is to add an electrical hookup to the replica boathouse, adding a new antique pole, and a comfort station in cooperation with the Friends of the Park.
Norgard said the conservancy contributed $10,000 to the comfort station’s interior and $5,000 for the infrastructure work.
“Moneywise, we have roughly $58,000 in the bank,” he said.
Rainy-day fund keeps on growing
Additionally, they also have the rainy-day fund, which they initially started with $25,000, a source promised to the city that would not be touched in case anything were to happen and the conservancy were to go away, that money would be there to take care of the lighthouse into the future.
“That fund has now grown to $32,000 and it keeps growing,” Norgard said.
The nonprofit organization’s funding comes primarily from memberships, who are fittingly called “Keepers,” which individually provide anywhere from $25 to $1,000.
As of the end of 2021, they conservancy has 334 “Keepers.”
“That number, believe it or not, stays fairly high every year, so we’re fortunate to have some very dedicated support out there and we hope that will continue,” he said. “Overall, the look of the area is quite good. We’re committed to keeping it that way.”
This article originally appeared on Port Clinton News Herald: Port Clinton Lighthouse growing stronger, preserving historic icon