Located on the shores of Lake Erie, 1,831-acre East Harbor State Park has unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation. Boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking and camping are popular while nature enthusiasts will enjoy the abundance of waterfowl, shorebirds and other species of wildlife found in the park's scenic wetlands.
Before European settlement, the East Harbor region was home to the Ottawa and Wyandot Indians. Ottawa in native tongue means "trader". An east-west trail skirted the southern shore of Lake Erie connecting the Pittsburgh and Detroit settlements, and also linked with the famed Scioto Trail from the south. This important area remained in Indian control until the British and Indians were defeated in the War of 1812 by the Americans.
After the Great Black Swamp was eventually drained, the land became highly productive. Fruits, particularly peaches and grapes, were grown extensively. The grape culture became very successful as a result of quality soil, natural drainage and suitable climate.
Marblehead Lighthouse was erected in 1821 east of the park on the Marblehead Peninsula to aid navigation in and out of Sandusky Bay. Johnsons Island on the bay side of the peninsula was the site of a prison for Confederate soldiers captured during the Civil War. A Confederate cemetery still remains on the island.
The region has long been valued as a recreation area. The unique plant and animal life, sandy beaches, marshland and the lake itself led to the development of East Harbor State Park. The park was opened in 1947 and today is one of northern Ohio's most popular vacation spots.