|Manhattan Range, OH|
Description: Looking at the truncated towers that now rest somewhat ignominiously next to an industrial equipment repair company and a café, one would hardly guess that these lights came into existence on a stretch of water embroiled in early American history.
Because of encroaching European settlements in the Great Lakes region during the late 17th and 18th centuries, Native American tribes were forced westward and southward. As a result, many came to rest in the Maumee River Valley, which soon became one of the last Native American strongholds in the “Ohio Country.” The valley was the site of many battles during the French and Indian War, but the definitive struggle came in 1794, when General Anthony Wayne, on orders from George Washington, gained control of the Maumee Valley for the United States of America. Several years later, the river valley was again the site of battles, this time during the War of 1812. Victory in that conflict solidified America’s control of the region and helped open the Northwest Territory for settlement.
In 1868, three pairs of range lights known as Maumee Outer, Maumee Middle, and Maumee Inner, were activated to mark the circuitous channel. Additional ranges, known as the Maumee Bay Range and consisting of an East Beacon, Main Beacon, and a South Beacon, went into service in 1884.
In 1890, work was underway on a new, eight-mile-long, straight channel in Maumee Bay. Congress appropriated $8,000 in 1893 and another $2,000 in 1894 to construct a new range, known as Manhattan Range, to mark the inner end of the channel. A site for the rear light of this range was purchased on Manhattan Point in North Toledo (the Town of Manhattan had ceased to exist by this time), while land on the bottom of Maumee Bay was ceded to the federal government by the State of Ohio for the front light.
Two wooden towers were built for Manhattan Range, and the lenses from Maumee Inner Range were transferred to the new lights. The Inner, Middle, and Outer range lights were all discontinued when Manhattan Range was established on April 1, 1895, though they remained standing as daymarks to mark the old channel. A dwelling, boathouse, and woodshed were built near the Manhattan Range Rear Light for its keeper.
The Manhattan Range Lights followed the pattern of all range lights: they were built as a pair and spaced a significant distant apart, with the front light shorter and the rear light taller. Captains would align their vessels with the lights so that one was positioned directly above the other, and, keeping this alignment, they could proceed safely through the channel.
In 1897, the rear beacon, which was an open frame up to the enclosed top section, was entirely enclosed and its interior finished. Small cribs were put in place in 1899 so a 593-foot-long walkway, equipped with an iron handrail, could be built to link the front light to the shore. An iron oil house and a brick cistern were also added to the station that year.
In 1913, $15,000 was requested for the following improvement to the Manhattan Range Lights.
These range lights, marking the axis of the Maumee Bay straight channel leading to Toledo, should be clearly visible after passing the Maumee Bay Range Lights for a distance of about 5 miles. The present lights are too low and are frequently obscured by smoke. They are also sometimes blanketed by vessels mooring in the lagoon. These lights should therefore be raised in order to give greater efficiency. The present wooden towers are not structurally adapted for raising, and it is proposed to replace them with steel towers.
The requested funds were appropriated on July 1, 1916, and two steel, skeletal towers went into operation on the range on May 25, 1918, using the lenses from the old towers illuminated by 75-watt concentrated filament lamps. Both lights were fixed red, with the front one having a focal plane of forty feet and the rear one eighty-six feet above mean lake level. The front tower stood forty-one feet tall, and the rear tower eighty-three feet tall.
After nearly forty-two years of continuous service, Keeper William H. Jennings retired on March 26, 1926. At that time, no other active keeper in the tenth district had more years of service than Keeper Jennings. The Lighthouse Service noted that his long record of service had been marked with faithfulness and willingness.
In the late 1980s, the Coast Guard offered to sell the Manhattan Range Lights to H Hansen Industries, but a deal was instead agreed upon whereby Hansen Industries would be given the lights if they would simply remove them. Late one summer afternoon, a few employees of Hansen Industries departed their workplace aboard a boat with a barge and crane in tow. Cutting down the towers proved more difficult than expected, but after trimming the taller rear tower to match the twenty-foot height of its mate, the pair were transported back to Hansen Industries where they were placed in the parking lot. The owner of the Lighthouse Cafe later purchased the front tower and relocated it to his business at 2605 Broadway. (The restaurant has since been converted to the Six Pack Bar & Grill, and then Lighthouse Banquet Hall.) The Front Range is now painted red after having been white, while the Rear Range is pale yellow with a blue roof and ventilator ball.
The Manhattan Range Lights were still active in 2013, with the rear light being exhibited from atop a building and the front light from a post.
Head Keepers: Harvey Dayan (1895 - 1905), Edward Ahart (1905 - at least 1911), William H. Jennings (at least 1920 - 1926), David C. Sutherland (1926 - at least 1933).
The Rear Range Light is located on the grounds
of H. Hansen Industries at 2824 North Summit Street, while the Front Range Light is located
at 2605 Broadway Street, next to the
Six Pack Bar & Grill. The lighthouses are privately owned. Towers closed.
The lighthouses are privately owned. Towers closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.