Our Story

The history behind Sandusky, Ohio

Established in 1818, “Sandusky” is derived from the Wyandot word saundustee, meaning "water" or andusti, "cold water". Sandusky’s population grew quickly throughout the 19th century due to industry’s attraction to the Sandusky Bay and the easy access to Lake Erie.

Lake Erie has always served as a foundation for Sandusky’s history and future. Sandusky was one of Ohio’s first major ports and was an original terminus for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad. Chartered by the state legislature in 1832 and envisioned to run between Sandusky and Dayton to the southwest, the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad was the first rail line located entirely in Ohio.

Sandusky was also a destination on the Underground Railroad. Slaves seeking freedom in Canada made their way to Sandusky, where they boarded boats crossing Lake Erie to the port of Amherstburg in Ontario. Years later during Prohibition, Sandusky served as a destination for smugglers bringing in outlawed rum, whisky and other illegal potions from Canada.
During the latter part of the 19th century, Sandusky was the largest ice producer west of New York City and was noted as the Ice Capital of the Great Lakes. Today, Sandusky is known for recreational water activities including fishing, boating, beaches, wetlands and much more.

Sandusky’s historic downtown was designed according to a modified grid plan, known as the Kilbourne Plat after its designer. The original street pattern, laid out like Washington D.C., featured a grid overlaid with streets resembling the symbols of Freemasonry. Today, Sandusky’s downtown serves as a cultural and recreational destination featuring shopping, dining and entertainment.

Then & Now