Vermilion -- A 'New England' Town On Lake Erie

The name "vermilion" originates a from a very expensive red pigment first discovered in prehistoric ages. The pigment was used throughout Europe from the 12th century, mostly for illuminated manuscripts (Wikipedia).

Vermilion is decidedly different

Vermilion is a nice place to visit and it is closer to Cleveland than the Kelleys island that we talked about in the previous issue. It has a serene New England small town atmosphere, and is a perfect spot for a relaxing walk along the Lake Erie shore.

There are several small coastal towns which are definitely worth visiting. Last time we wrote about Marblehead. All of these towns have a lighthouse, which was a necessity in the old times, when the stormy waves and the rugged shoreline of Lake Erie were so dangerous to the sailors.

Vermillion lighthouse

There is a nice green lawn around the lighthouse and the beach is just several feet away. You can relax watching the horizon and the several brave souls swimming or surfing in the muddy waters. Muddy is right because the local river is carrying a lot of soil in the lake. It is a common problem for almost all Lake Erie communities including Cleveland. The big rivers take enormous amount of fertile soil and dump it in the lake. Then, special machines have to dug out this soil and put it back on the land, otherwise the harbors will become too shallow. You can actually see the clear demarcation line between the brown river water close to the shore, and the blue water of the lake.

The Inland Seas Museum is located just on top of the hill above the lighthouse. I did not know that you can call the Great lakes "inland seas" but that is cool. There is one of the biggest collection of ship anchors in Ohio.

Inland Seas Marine Museum; A lake shore house

Vermilion streets; A dream come true - a lake side street, a fast car, and a Harley

Walking along the Main Street you sink into this small town atmosphere which feels like traveling back in time. Even the public restroom has the the gallant name of "public comfort station" -- how about that?! The main street is beautifully decorated with old style street lamps with purple petunias, blossoming along the way.

It was not such a long time ago when horses used to carry ice for the fast perishing foods before the refrigerator was invented. Mr 1 is a website devoted to Vermilion history: "Much of the ice used to keep things fresh in homes, restaurants, and shops during the warm months was harvested from the Vermilion River during the winter, and stored in ice-houses along the river. Amazing! For youngsters who don't know why refrigerators are commonly referred to as "ice boxes" ~ it's because people had wooden insulated cabinets packed with ice to keep perishable items fresh. The ice wagon would travel throughout the town and sell blocks of ice for this purpose."

There are 2 major festivals in Vermilion and we actually went for one of them -- the Festival of the Fish is reminiscent of the old days when Vermillion was a busy fishing place, although not the Walleye capital of the world -- a title reserved for Port Clinton.

The second festival is slightly weirder, although its claim to fame is being the largest single day festival event in Ohio -- 100,000 people come to visit Vermilion in one day. It was originated by the FoxTV weather man Dick Goddard 17 years ago. The festival is named after the Woollybear which is a... caterpillar. I have never thought that you can name anything after a caterpillar apart from machinery but obviously you can. The weather connection is that people see these red-brown hairy creators in the fall, and if they have more black color than red, the winter is supposed to be very cold. Whatever your take on this is, you are invited to the Wollybear festival, and so far the weather backed by Dick Goddard has been good on this day for 17 years!

The Vermilion marina; A passing boat

In downtown you can see the marina with houses several feet away from the river and boats parked in front of each of them. It almost looks like Venetia. And where else you can see a boat named "Life is good"? It sure is!

"Life is good" Boat

Enjoy Vermilion and the other towns on the beautiful Lake Erie shore. How to get there? Vermilion is just 50 minutes away from the west side of Cleveland.

Vermilion, Ohio -
Chez Fran├žois is reportedly a fabulous French restaurant on the Vermilion river. It is located right by the Beach and the Inland Seas Museum.

Created: 01/2005
Updated: 06/20/2007

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