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Turtle Lighthouse

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Turtle Island in Lake Erie, seen in this historical photo, was named for Chief Little Turtle of the Miamis in the late 18th century. In his time it was a lush spot of more than 6 acres, two-thirds of which has been eroded by water.

TOLEDO-LUCAS COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY

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The U.S. government had sold Turtle Island in 1827 but purchased it back in 1831 for improvements. The lighthouse, seen here in 1880, was built in 1831 as the first in Maumee Bay. A new light was placed in service on Sept. 12, 1866, and a fog bell and cisterns were added in 1871.

HISTORICAL PHOTO

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The first lighthouse keeper, Samuel D. Choate, died on Turtle Island in 1834 after a cholera outbreak. His wife buried him with the help of their son Seth, who also fell ill and died. She was alone on the island with another young child and an infant until a boater noticed the light was not shining and came to the island to investigate.

HISTORICAL PHOTO

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Shipping traffic on Lake Erie was growing significantly in the late 1880s, so the Toledo Harbor light was built in 1904. The Turtle Island lighthouse, seen here in ruins in 1925, was abandoned and the island was put up for public auction.

BLADE FILE PHOTO

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The Yacht Clubs of Toledo leased the island in 1933 and made some improvements to it. This photo was taken in 1958.

BLADE FILE PHOTO

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By 1958 a Toledo transportation company owned the island, its ruins seen here on May 28 of that year.

BLADE FILE PHOTO

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In 1958 ruins sit on the Turtle Island site where the Miami once collected bountiful clutches of gull eggs.

BLADE FILE PHOTO

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Only a few steps remain of the spiral stairway in the lighthouse.

BLADE FILE PHOTO

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A retreat was being built on Turtle Island in 2002.

BLADE FILE PHOTO

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Ice floes in 2009 wrecked a house on little Turtle Island.

OTTAWA RIVER YACHT CLUB

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What is left of the lighthouse on Turtle Island, seen here in 2009, still serves as a landmark to Lake Erie boaters today.

OTTAWA RIVER YACHT CLUB

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