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South Bass Island Lighthouse - Put-In-Bay, Ohio

South Bass Island Lighthouse is located on the southern end of South Bass Island. The 2-½ story building with 60’ tall lighthouse was built in 1892. The tower was lit for the first time in 1897 by keeper Harry H. Riley. The lighthouse looks over Lake Erie during the shipping season which runs from March to December.


Mr. Riley hired Sam Anderson to help maintain the grounds. Sam lived in the basement of the lighthouse with snakes. After living there for about 3 weeks the smallpox outbreak occurred. Mr. Anderson tried to leave the lighthouse but troops forced him to quarantine at the lighthouse.


Mr. Anderson refused to enter the lighthouse and stayed outside most of the night screaming. The next day Anderson’s body was found at the bottom of the cliff near the lighthouse. Mr. Anderson’s death was ruled a suicide.


Two days later police found Mr. Riley wandering around town drunk and he was committed to a state mental hospital where he died later that year. Mrs. Riley temporarily took over lighthouse duties. Supposedly Anderson’s ghost haunts the basement of the lighthouse.


Charles B. Duggan was the next light keeper. In April of 1925 he died after falling from a cliff.


The lighthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic places on April 5, 1990. It is now owned by Ohio State University.


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