Welcome to the Story of Erie County, Ohio

Erie County was officially created by an act of the Ohio Legislature in 1838. It was formed from parts of Sandusky and Huron counties, and it is named for the Erie, a tribe of Native Americans who once lived along the south shore of Lake Erie. It is the second smallest of Ohio’s 88 counties in terms of geographic size, only 626 square miles, including Kelleys Island, but its story is a remarkable one.

Since 1965, the mission of the Erie County Historical Society is to tell that story. The story is ongoing, it is written new every day, every month, every year. What we do, think, and say is influenced by what came before us. How we think about the past—what we choose to celebrate and what we choose to ignore—changes as well. History, including local history, is far from settled and is constantly changing as new information is unearthed and new filters are used to interpret what came before us. History really is alive.

Traditionally, the Society has focused on lecture programs and historical markers to tell the county’s story. This website is an attempt to add new storytelling tools to the effort. We invite visitors to travel back in time and visit our three historic walking tours created in partnership with the Sandusky Library.

We believe knowing and understanding something of the past gives a new level of appreciation to everyday life.


Thank you for visiting Erie County.

The Trustees and Members of the Erie County Historical Society

Historic Walking Tours

The best way to visit the past

Underground Railroad Historic Walking Tour

The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad, but a system of loosely connected safe havens where those escaping the brutal conditions of slavery were sheltered, fed, clothed, nursed, concealed, disguised, and instructed during their journey to freedom.

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Washington Park Historic Walking Tour

Washington Park was set aside by the original proprietors of the city in 1818 as a “public ground” and a place for “public buildings for religious, literary, state county and city purposes.” Until 1842 the park was an open space with people, teams and animals passing over it in all directions. There was no regular street except Columbus Avenue and a driveway known as Washington Row on the North side.

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Downtown Sandusky Historic Walking Tour

Unlike many of the larger cities located on the south shore of Lake Erie, Sandusky still retains a large number of historically significant 19th century residences and commercial buildings. Prior to taking one of the Erie County Historical Society’s Sandusky History walks, it is worth considering some of the events in the city’s history that shaped the city as it has evolved over the past two centuries.

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Sandusky Library - Erie County Ohio Historical Society

Did you know that 2018 marks the City of Sandusky’ Bicentennial? There is so much planned! The best place to keep up with all the happenings is https://sandusky2018.com/events/. Sandusky has four major scheduled events for the Bicentennial: Bicentennial Ball (April 28), Tall Ships Festival (July 12-15), Founders’ Day Bicentennial Parade (August 18), and the Winter Festival (November 23-25). The Ball is a major fund raising event and will take place in the historic Cedar Point Ballroom on Saturday evening, April 28. There will be band/orchestra that will play music transitioning through the time frame of Sandusky’s history, a special cake created by Wendy Kromer, and signature Bicentennial-themed cocktails. It should be quite an evening. Cost is $150 per person or $300 per couple. Tables will accommodate 10 guests. Funds raised from this event will be used to support a number of other Bicentennial events.

The Erie County Historical Society is please to be taking an active part in the celebration. Our organization has committed to hosting FIVE historical walking tours as the focus of our support for the Sandusky Bicentennial: May 23, June 27, July 25, August 22, and September 26. All tours are on Wednesdays and start at 6:00 p.m. These are very popular. We will be posting sign-up information in the near future.

The best way to live in the present

Museums & Historical Sites

Another way to learn about the past

Museums - Erie County Ohio Historical Society

Featured Museum: Cooke-Dorn House Historic Site

1415 Columbus Avenue, Sandusky

Managed by the Old House Guild of Sandusky, this three story Greek Revival limestone home is one of the most well-known homes in Sandusky. It was built in 1843 by Eleutheros Cooke (1787-1864), father of Civil War financier Jay Cooke, at the southwest corner of Columbus Avenue and West Washington Row.

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Merry Go Round Museum - Erie County Ohio Historical Society

Featured Museum: Old Post Office / Merry-Go-Round Museum

301 Jackson Street, Sandusky

The Merry-Go-Round Museum displays artifacts that add to the public’s awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the history of the carousel.  Dentzel carving shop tools are a permanent exhibit, along with a working woodcarving shop, and a carousel machine, (circa 1939 Allan Herschell Corporation).

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The number and quality of museums in our area is impressive and the Erie County Historical Society encourages both residents and visitors to visit these museums and historic sites to learn more about the story of Erie County and our neighboring counties.

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