Description - On September 10, 1813, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated and captured a British squadron of warships at the Battle of Lake Erie. The battle, fought during the War of 1812, secured control of Lake Erie for the United States and enabled General William Henry Harrison to conduct a successful invasion of Western Upper Canada. Harrison subsequently defeated the British and Indians at the Thames River on October 5, 1813. The dual victories of Lake Erie and the Thames provided an important morale boost to the young country and gave the United States a much stronger bargaining position at the peace talks. The Treaty of Ghent, signed on Christmas Eve 1814, ended the War 1812. However, in 1817 the United States signed the Rush-Bagot Agreement with Great Britain, a document that has resulted in peaceful relations between the United States and Canada since the War of 1812. Constructed between 1912 and 1915 by a commission of nine states and the federal government, Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial was built not only to commemorate the American naval triumph, but also "to inculcate the lessons of international peace by arbitration and disarmament." On June 2, 1936 the memorial was established as a unit of the National Park Service by a presidential proclamation of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- Rising 352 feet above Lake Erie, the Perry Memorial is the most dominant feature of the Lake Erie Islands. Interred beneath the rotunda floor are the remains of the three American and three British officers who were killed during the Battle of Lake Erie. Carved in the rotunda walls are the names of Perry's vessels along with the names of the Americans who were killed or wounded in the battle. After a climb of 37 steps to the lower landing, an elevator takes visitors to an open air observation deck 317 feet above Lake Erie. On a moderately clear day the observation deck offers a panoramic view of the Lake Erie Islands and the shorelines of Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario. The elevator trip to the observation deck lasts approximately 60 seconds. Rangers are posted on the observation deck to answer questions and assist visitors. From mid-June through the end of August, rangers offer interpretive talks about the Battle of Lake Erie, the War of 1812, construction of the monument, and other topics of interest. Talks normally occur on the plaza at the base of the Memorial and are usually offered on the hour from 11 AM to 5 PM. On weekends, rangers offer living history demonstrations. Dressed in War of 1812 military and civilian uniforms, rangers present talks about the Battle and the war, concluded with a firing demonstration of reproduction flintlock muskets and rifles. On scheduled weekends there are firing demonstrations of a reproduction 32-pounder carronade.
The visitor center, restrooms and interpretive programs are all handicapped accessible. Special requests for demonstrations and other accommodations can be made by calling the park in advance. Physically challenged visitors should note that the designer of Perry's Memorial felt that the noise and traffic surrounding the elevator operation would be intrusive and disrespectful to the commemorative nature of the rotunda and to the officers buried within. Consequently the elevator landing was located on the 2nd floor of the memorial column, two flights of stairs above the rotunda. Hence, the monument is not accessible to those with physical constraints.
Recreation - Recreational opportunities at Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial include fishing and star gazing. Daily entrance fee for those 17 years and older is $3.
April to Mid-May, and October: 10 AM - 5 PM daily.
Mid-May to Mid-June and September: 10 AM to 6 PM daily.
Mid-June to September: 10 AM to 7 PM daily.
Late October to late April: Appointment Only.
Once you arrive on South Bass Island, the park and most other attractions are either within walking distance or a short bus or taxi ride away; rates are reasonable. Golf cart and bicycle rentals are also available. Services are limited during off-season.
Climate - Visitors to the Lake Erie region should plan for brisk winter weather, oftentimes accompanied by a bitterly cold wind. In general, the state has four distinct seasons and a brilliant fall foliage display in it southern woods during mid October. Winter lasts from December through February with average temperatures near 25 degrees F. Low temperatures dip to single digits, but do not often drop below zero. Northern regions of the state receive average snowfall amounts of 55 inches, while the central and southern regions of the state receive lesser amounts with averages near 30 inches. This difference is caused by lake-affect moisture patterns.
Spring temperatures begin to warm the landscapes of Ohio by mid March and are in full swing by April. Temperatures range from 40 through 70 degrees F through the spring months. This season often brings the most rainfall, before the drying heat of summer. Summer can be extremely hot and humid in the interior of Ohio. Temperatures reach above 90 degrees F frequently through July and August. Cooler fall temperatures don't reach the region until mid to late September. This is a pleasant time to visit as the air is crisp with low humidity levels. Ohio's annual precipitation usually reaches slightly above 50 inches.
Access to the island is by public ferry or plane only.
From the east: Travel the Ohio Turnpike to U.S. Highway 250. Take US 250 north to State Route 2 west.
From the west: Travel the Ohio Turnpike to State Routes 53 and 2.
There are several ferry lines that service the island, the Jet Express, The Miller Boat Line, and the Rocket.
Take SR 2 to 163/Port Clinton exit and follow the signs to the Jet Express.
Take SR 2 to 53 N/Catawba Island exit and to the Miller Boat Line.
Take SR 2 to 250 N/Sandusky exit and follow the signs to the Rocket ferry line.