Sandusky, Ohio

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Sandusky, Ohio
Schade Mylander.jpg
Official seal of Sandusky, Ohio
Location in the state of Ohio
Location in the state of Ohio
Coordinates: 41°26′48″N 82°42′33″W / 41.44667°N 82.70917°W / 41.44667; -82.70917Coordinates: 41°26′48″N 82°42′33″W / 41.44667°N 82.70917°W / 41.44667; -82.70917
CountryUnited States
 • TypeCity Commission
 • Ex-officio MayorRichard R. Brady (R)
 • CommissionersDennis E. Murray (D) Micheal Meinzer (R)
Blake A. Harris (D)
C. Wesley Poole (D)
Naomi R. Twine (D)
David Waddington (D)
 • City ManagerEric Wobser
 • City21.81 sq mi (56.49 km2)
 • Land9.63 sq mi (24.93 km2)
 • Water12.19 sq mi (31.56 km2)
597 ft (182 m)
 • City25,793
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,552.10/sq mi (985.39/km2)
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s)419/567
FIPS code39-70380[5]
GNIS feature ID1076832[6]

Sandusky /sænˈdʌsk/ is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Erie County.[7] Situated in northern Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie, Sandusky is located roughly midway between Toledo (45 miles (72 km) west) and Cleveland (50 miles (80 km) east).

Richard R. Brady is the Mayor of the City Of Sandusky, preceded by Dennis E. Murray (2014–2020). Under Murray's leadership, Sandusky saw a rebirth in its downtown and economic growth. Sandusky voters passed Issue 8 under Murray's leadership.

According to 2010 census, the city had a population of 25,793,[8] and the Sandusky, Ohio Micropolitan Statistical Area had 77,079 residents.[9]

In 2011, Sandusky was ranked No. 1 by Forbes as the "Best Place to Live Cheaply" in the United States.[10] The city has a median family income of $64,000.[10]

Sandusky is home to the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which owns large amounts of property in Sandusky. These properties include Cedar Point, Cedar Fair's flagship park and one of the most popular amusement parks in the world, as well as Cedar Point Shores, adjacent to Cedar Point itself.[11][12]

The National Arbor Day Foundation has designated Sandusky as a Tree City USA.


The accepted etymology is that the name "Sandusky" is derived from the Wyandot word saundustee, meaning "water"[13][14] or andusti, "cold water."[15] In his 1734 history of New France, Charlevoix transliterated the word as "Chinouski." Sandusky Bay, formed at the mouth of the Sandusky River, is identified as "Lac (Lake) Sandouské" on a 1718 map by Guillaume DeLisle.[16] The name "L.(Lac) Sandoski" appears on a 1733 map.[17] Sandusky Bay was also called Lac Ondaské, in another French transliteration of the Wyandot.[18]

The river and bay gave rise to a number of eponymous forts and settlements along their shores. These consisted of the short-lived English trading post Fort Sandusky north of the bay, the French Fort Sandoské that replaced it, the British Fort Sandusky on the south shore of the bay, the American Fort Sandusky (later Fort Stephenson) upriver at Lower Sandusky (now known as Fremont, Ohio), as well as the Wyandot Indian village of Upper Sandusky farther upriver.[18]

Another, less accepted etymologic version claims that the city's name goes back to an American trader and frontiersman named Anthony Sadowski, a neighbor of the Boone family and co-founder of Amity village. He was employed by the governor of then British Pennsylvania as a trader and interpreter, speaking several Indian languages, especially Iroquois. He moved to the Pennsylvania frontier in January 1712 and could easily have made it to Lake Erie by 1718 to establish a trading post. One genealogical line of his descendants is actually called "Sandusky."


The City of Sandusky has a Commission/Manager style government with a ceremonial Mayor. The current Mayor is Richard R. Brady. The Mayor sets the goals of the city and is the public figure for the city. He is also the Chairman of the City Commission. The City Commission is made up of seven representatives who represent the citizens of Sandusky at large. Democrats currently have a 5-2 majority on the commission. Legislative sessions are held every other Monday in the Commission Chambers at City Hall. The city also has a City Manager, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the city. The current City Manager is Eric Wobser. City Hall is located at 240 Columbus Ave. in the Government District of Downtown Sandusky (Erie County Court House, Sandusky City Hall, Erie County Office Tower, Social Security Administration). There is on street parking and a parking garage attached to the Erie County Office Tower.[1]

City Commissioners:

Richard (Dick) Brady; (R) Brady is in his second consecutive term on the commission, he is a business owner, and is currently serving as the Ex-oficio Mayor of Sandusky. Brady is up for re-election in 2021.

Dennis E. Murray Jr.; (D) Murray is in his second consecutive term on the commission, he is a trial lawyer, former Ohio House Representative, and the most senior ranking Democrat on the commission. Murray is up for re-election in 2021.

Micheal Meinzer; (R) Meinzer is in his first term on the commission, he is a former Fire Chief for the City of Sandusky Fire Dept. Meinzer brings expertise in safety services to the commission chamber. Meinzer is up for re-election in 2023.

Blake A. Harris; (D) Harris is in his first term on the commission, he is a business owner, and a community activist. Harris is up for re-election in 2023.

C. Wesley Poole; (D) Poole is in his second term on the commission, he previously worked for Firelands Hospital. Poole is up for re-election in 2023.

Naomi R. Twine; (D) Twine is in her second term on the commission, she works for the Ohio Veterans Home. She is a lifelong Sandusky resident. Twine is eligible for re-election in 2021, but has decided to retire.

David Waddington; (D) Waddington is in his second consecutive term. He previously served on commission from 2004 to 2011. Waddington is the longest serving commissioner. Waddington is eligible for re-election in 2023, but has stated that he is unlikely to run for office again.


This area was a center of trading and fortifications since the 18th century: the English, French, and Americans had trading posts and forts built on both the north and south sides of Sandusky Bay.[18] George Croghan was one of the more prominent men who operated in this area in the 18th-century.

Development by European Americans of the city of Sandusky, starting in 1818, on the southeast shore of Sandusky Bay, followed settlement of the war of 1812. Part of the city quickly enveloped the site of an earlier small village named "Portland" (established about 1816). Sandusky was incorporated as a city in 1824.[19] Eventually the city of Sandusky encompassed most of the entire township that had been called Portland.[20] Some of the city was built on land formerly occupied by a Native American man named Ogontz, and therefore the city is said to have been built on "Ogontz' place".

Sandusky's rise in the 19th-century was heavily influenced by its location at the head of Sandusky Bay. This made it a key point both for the movement of goods and for the movement of people. The mild climate caused by its proximity to Lake Erie also caused it to become the center of Ohio's wine industry. The presence of limestone was also key to its development. It was also a key location for ice harvesting in the 19th-century.[21] Lumber transport, stone quarrying and in the early 20th-century manufacturing have all been key in the city's history.

Prior to the abolition of slavery in the United States, Sandusky was a major stop for refugee slaves on the Underground Railroad, as some would travel across Lake Erie to reach freedom in Canada. Although Ohio was a free state, they felt at risk from slavecatchers because of bonuses offered under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. As depicted in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1855), many refugee slaves seeking to get to Canada made their way to Sandusky, where they boarded boats crossing Lake Erie to the port of Amherstburg in Ontario.

Sandusky's original plat was designed by surveyor Hector Kilbourne according to a modified grid plan, known today as the Kilbourne Plat. Kilbourne later became the first Worshipful Master of the first Sandusky Masonic Lodge known as Science Lodge #50, still in operation on Wayne Street. His design featured a street grid with avenues cutting diagonally to create patterns reminiscent of the symbols of Freemasonry.

On September 17, 1835, Sandusky was the site of groundbreaking for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, which brought change to the town. Industrial areas developed near the railroad and goods were transported through the port. The coal docks located west of downtown still use a portion of the original MR&LE right-of-way. In 1838 Erie County, Ohio was formed by the state legislature and Sandusky was designated the county seat. This led to the foundation of a court house and Sandusky becoming a regional government center.[22] In 1846 Sandusky had a population of approximately 3,000 people. At that point Sandusky had two railroads and was also a main focus of lake traffic. The town then consisted of many stores, two printing offices, two machine shops, two banks, six churches, one high school, and several iron furnaces.[23]

Since the late 20th century, Battery Park Marina was developed on the original site of the MR&LE Railroad after restructuring of the industry reduced traffic on the line. The tracks that ran through downtown Sandusky have since been removed. Most of the downtown industrial area is also being redeveloped for other purposes, including mainly marina dockage.

The English author Charles Dickens visited the city in 1842, and briefly wrote of it in his subsequent travelogue, American Notes. Said Dickens, who rode the newly constructed MR&LE railroad from Tiffin:

At two o'clock we took the railroad; the travelling-on which was very slow, its construction being indifferent, and the ground wet and marshy; and arrived at Sandusky in time to dine that evening. We put up at a comfortable little hotel on the brink of Lake Erie, lay there that night, and had no choice but to wait there next day, until a steamboat bound for Buffalo appeared. The town, which was sluggish and uninteresting enough, was something like the back of an English watering-place out of the season.

By 1880 Sandusky had risen to a population of 16,000. There were then 20 churches and 3 newspapers in the community. The city boasted 29 businesses with at least 10 employees. Products being products included lime, railroad locomotives and cars, carriages, wheels, crayons, chalk, beer, paper, baskets, and tools.[23] By 1886 Sandusky was the center of wood wheel manufacture in the United States. It was also the location of the Ohio State Fish hatchery and the Ohio Soldiers and Sailor's Home.[23]

The city developed as a center of paper-making. With a mill in the industrial area near the lake, the Hinde & Dauch Paper Company was the largest employer in the city in the early 1900s.

As the 20th century progressed, the economy of Sandusky came to focus mainly on tourism and fishing.



Muddy brown water fills Sandusky Bay, just south of Lake Erie in this astronaut photograph.

Sandusky is located at 41°26′48″N 82°42′33″W / 41.44667°N 82.70917°W / 41.44667; -82.70917 (41.446741, −82.709092).[24]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 21.91 square miles (56.75 km2), of which 9.73 square miles (25.20 km2) is land and 12.18 square miles (31.55 km2) is water.[25]

Sandusky occupies the defunct township Portland[26] and borders the following townships:


Sandusky has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa), typical of the Midwestern United States, with warm summers and cold winters. Winters tend to be cold, with an average January high temperature of 32 °F (0 °C), and an average January low temperature of 19 °F (−7 °C), with considerable variation in temperatures. Sandusky averages 23.3 inches (59 cm) of snow per winter.[27] Summers tend to be warm with an average July high temperature of 82 °F (28 °C), and an average July low temperature of 66 °F (19 °C). Summer weather is more stable, generally humid with thunderstorms. Fall usually is the driest season with many clear warm days and cool nights.

The highest recorded temperature in Sandusky of 105 °F (41 °C) was set on July 14, 1936, and the lowest recorded temperature of −20 °F (−29 °C) was set on January 19, 1994.[28]

Climate data for Sandusky, Ohio (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1896–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
Average high °F (°C) 34.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 28.1
Average low °F (°C) 21.8
Record low °F (°C) −20
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.90
Average snowfall inches (cm) 5.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.6 10.1 12.2 13.1 13.3 12.1 9.8 9.7 10.0 11.8 11.1 11.7 135.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 3.8 2.3 1.4 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.9 9.7
Source: NOAA (snow 1981–2010)[29][30][31]

Local areas

Historically, the Wyandot used the term andoske to refer to the river, the bay, and the general area where the city of "Sandusky" later developed. This practice was also used by French and English settlers in the area. Often in historical documents, the word "Sandusky" is used without clarification as to which specific site or location is being referred to. Historical references to "Sandusky" might mean any one of the following locations, depending also on the date of the reference.[32]

List of locations, with approximate dates of usage:

  • Sandusky/Sandusky City - about 1817* to present, village/city on southeast side of Sandusky Bay (*-any "Sandusky" reference dated prior to 1817 would not refer to this village, as it was not officially established by this name until 1818).
  • Sandusky Bay - 1700 to present; early variants were "(Lac d')Otsanderket", "(Lac d')Otsandoske", "Lake Sandoskė".
  • Sandusky River - 1740s to present.
  • Fort Sandusky - various locations: c. 1745, an English trading post on the northern side of the bay. c.1754, a French fort ("Fort Janundat") was built on the southern side of the bay. Later in the French and Indian War, the British built Fort Sandusky on the southeastern side of Sandusky Bay. From about 1812/1813, this referred to a fort (later called "Fort Stephenson") on the Sandusky River, near present-day Fremont, Ohio.
  • Lower Sandusky - 1760s to 1849, area or village at the site of what is now the city of Fremont.
  • Upper Sandusky - 1760s? to present, area or village at the falls, which later developed as the current city of Upper Sandusky. Upper Sandusky is south of Sandusky and upriver of it. While a common first impression is that "Upper" implies "north of", here "Upper" refers to "upstream", as in upstream of Lake Erie by means of the Sandusky River.
  • Upper Sandusky Old Town - 1760s? to ?, a historic Wyandot (Huron) tribe village, about 12 miles (19 km) north of where the city of Upper Sandusky developed.


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)24,564[4]−4.8%

2010 census

Largest ancestries (2010) Percent
German 34.4%
Irish 15.9%
English 8.4%
Italian 6.8%
American 3.7%

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 25,793 people, 11,082 households, and 6,415 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,650.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,023.5/km2). There were 13,386 housing units at an average density of 1,375.7 per square mile (531.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 70.4% White, 22.0% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 1.1% from other races, and 5.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.9% of the population.

There were 11,082 households, of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.9% were married couples living together, 19.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.1% were non-families. 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.93.

The median age in the city was 38.5 years. 23.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.2% were from 25 to 44; 27.7% were from 45 to 64; and 15% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.6% male and 52.4% female.

2000 census

Largest ancestries (2000) Percent
German 32.1%
Irish 12.4%
English 7.8%
Italian 7.4%
American 6.7%

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 27,844 people, 11,851 households, and 7,039 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,770.5 people per square mile (1,069.7/km2). There were 13,323 housing units at an average density of 1,325.7 per square mile (511.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.50% White, 21.08% African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.97% from other races, and 2.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.09% of the population.

There were 11,851 households, out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.7% were married couples living together, 16.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 34.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city the population was spread out, with 25.8% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,133, and the median income for a family was $37,749. Males had a median income of $31,269 versus $21,926 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,111. About 12.2% of families and 15.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.7% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.


The Jackson Street Pier is a newly renovated tourism destination in Downtown Sandusky on Shoreline Dr. It features an event center, great lawn, Goodtime Ferry Dock, Selfie Locations, Boardwalk around the edge, Benches, Fishing, Ice Cream vendor, Slush Vendor, Restrooms, and more.

Sandusky has a tourism industry fueled by Cedar Point, the neighboring islands, boating, and more recently by its many indoor and outdoor water parks.[citation needed] It is also noted for being the location of the (fictional) "Callahan Auto Parts" in the movie Tommy Boy.

Cedar Point

View of Cedar Point from Lake Erie

Cedar Point is a major American amusement park located on Sandusky's coast on Lake Erie. One of America's oldest theme parks and popularly known as "America's Roller Coast", the park has the second largest collection of roller coasters at 17, behind only Six Flags Magic Mountain.[35][36] Additionally, Cedar Point is the only park in the world to have six roller coasters have heights of over 200 feet (61 m), and numerous Cedar Point roller coasters have set world records; the most notable of these being Magnum XL-200, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster each setting the record for the tallest full-circuit roller coaster at one point, and GateKeeper having the highest inversion of any roller coaster from 2013 to 2019, and today having the fourth highest inversion.[37][38]


May through August every year, Sandusky residents and incoming tourists flock to the neighboring islands north of the city, with many transportation options leaving right from downtown. The islands include Kelleys Island, South Bass Island (host of the popular village known as Put-in-Bay), Middle Bass Island and North Bass Island.

Themed parties are a common occurrence in the summer season throughout Sandusky and on the neighboring islands, such as "Island Fest", "Rock on the Dock", and "Christmas in July"; thousands of residents and tourists join in the festivities annually. In 2008, the residents of Sandusky hosted their first annual "Barge Party", where boats from as far as Toledo and Cleveland came to dock up their boats together at the sandbar, just inside Sandusky Bay.[39] The barge party ensues twice every year, typically in late June and late July.[39]


Kalahari, an African-themed indoor waterpark just outside Sandusky

The tourist draw produced by Cedar Point has attracted resort businesses and waterparks to the area. Major waterparks in and near Sandusky are:




Sandusky is home to several museums and historic homes. These include the Cooke-Dorn House historic site which was the home of Eleutheros Cooke, the Follett House Museum which was the home of Oran Follett, the Martime Museum of Sandusky, the Merry-Go Round Museum, and the Ohio Veterans Home Museum.[40]


Sandusky Transit System (STS) runs a full-service transit system across the Greater Sandusky Area. Its main station is downtown on the corner of Washington St. and Wayne St.

Blue Line: serves the suburban area, route 250, Sandusky Mall, and Kalahari Resort. Red: Serves the East side and Downtown. Yellow: Cedar Point, Sports Center. Orange: Midtown Purple: Serves the south side. Green: Serves the west side.


Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Sandusky. There are four trains daily, all arriving in the late night/early morning hours: the Capitol Limited between Chicago and Washington, D.C., via Pittsburgh; and the Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and New York/Boston via Buffalo. The Sandusky Amtrak Station is also home to a Greyhound Lines bus station.

Several ferry boats and routes serve Sandusky. These depart from the Jackson Street Pier, except Jet Express which departs from an adjacent pier.

The city was previously served by Griffing Sandusky Airport until its closure in 2013. The community is currently served by Erie–Ottawa International Airport in nearby Port Clinton for general aviation and limited commercial service to the Lake Erie Islands.[42] Today, flights from Detroit Metropolitan Airport, John Glenn Columbus International Airport, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport serve Sandusky.

In terms of road access, Sandusky is a short drive off the Ohio Turnpike (Interstate 90 and Interstate 80), enabling easy transportation to Sandusky from cities like Toledo, Cleveland, and Erie, Pennsylvania via those roads. U.S. Route 6 runs through Sandusky, and both Ohio State Route 4 and U.S. Route 250 converge on Sandusky.


Illustrated map of Sandusky in 1898

• Sandusky Public Schools enroll 3,775 students in public primary and secondary schools.[43] The district operates 10 public schools including five elementary schools, one middle school, one traditional high school, an alternative high school, a school for gifted students in grades 3–12, and a career center with programs for adults.

St. Mary Central Catholic High School/SCCS is a private Roman Catholic school associated with Holy Angels Church, St. Mary's Church, and Sts. Peter & Paul Church, all located in downtown Sandusky. SCCS is focused on giving students a faith-centered learning environment.

•Monroe Prep Academy is a private charter school in downtown Sandusky. It is located on E. Monroe St. on Sandusky's East Side.

Sandusky is served by the Sandusky Library, which also operates a branch on Kelleys Island.[44]


Sandusky (along with nearby Port Clinton and the Lake Erie Islands - known in the region collectively as "Vacationland")[45] is served by a daily newspaper, the Sandusky Register, and ten local radio stations. BAS Broadcasting (based in nearby Fremont) owns and operates WCPZ FM 102.7 (hot AC), WMJK FM 100.9 (country), WOHF FM 92.1 (classic hits), WFRO-FM FM 99.1 (AC), and WLEC AM 1450 (oldies/standards).[46]

Religious stations include WVMS FM 89.5 (run by the Moody Bible Institute as a relay of WCRF FM in Cleveland) and WGGN FM 97.7 which plays contemporary Christian music, in addition to WHRQ 88.1 FM (as a repeater of WNOC "Annunciation Radio" based in Toledo) airing programming from EWTN Global Catholic Radio.

Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting Co. operates three stations serving the "Vacationland" region, including WKFM FM 96.1 (country), WLKR-FM 95.3 (adult hits/sports) and WLKR AM 1510 (classic hits).[47]

Sandusky has one local television station, religiously-oriented WGGN-TV channel 52 (DTV 3). Sandusky's location between Toledo and Cleveland means that the city is also served by stations (albeit at a fringe level) in both of those markets as well.


Top employers

According to Sandusky's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[48] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Cedar Point 6,070
2 Firelands Regional Health System 2,067
3 Sandusky City School District 750
4 Erie County 596
5 Providence Care Center 361
6 City of Sandusky 264
7 JBT Corporation 239
8 LEWCO, Inc. 219
9 Stein Hospice Service 180
10 Okamoto Sandusky Manufacturing 131

Notable people


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  36. ^ "Theme Park History: Cedar Point - Then and Now". Theme Park Insider. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  37. ^ "Highest roller coaster inversions - Coasterpedia - The Roller Coaster and Flat Ride Wiki". Retrieved 2021-05-26.
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  39. ^ a b "Welcome".
  40. ^ erie County Historic Sites listing
  41. ^ Sandusky Transit System. "Maps and Schedules".
  42. ^ "Erie Islands | Griffing Flying Service | United States". griffing. Retrieved 2020-11-01.
  43. ^ Great "Sandusky City School District Profile". Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  44. ^ "About us". Sandusky Library. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  45. ^ "Sandusky History: Ohio's Lake Erie Vacationland". 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  46. ^ "BAS Broadcasting - Your Ohio Radio Stations". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  47. ^ "Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting Company". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  48. ^ "City of Sandusky CAFR" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-03-16.

External links

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