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Sandusky, Ohio

City of Sandusky
Official seal of City of Sandusky
Location in the state of Ohio
Location in the state of Ohio
Country United States
State Ohio
County Erie
Founded 1816
 • Type City Commission
 • Mayor Dennis E. Murray, Jr.
 • Vice-President Richard Brady
 • Commissioners[1] Scott Schell
Naomi Twine
Jeffrey Smith
Julie Farrar
C. Wesley Poole
 • City 21.91 sq mi (56.75 km2)
 • Land 9.73 sq mi (25.20 km2)
 • Water 12.18 sq mi (31.55 km2)
Elevation 597 ft (182 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • City 25,778
 • Estimate (2012[4]) 25,493
 • Density 2,650.9/sq mi (1,023.5/km2)
 • Metro 77,079
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 44870-44871
Area code(s) 419/567
FIPS code 39-70380[5]
GNIS feature ID 1076832[6]

Sandusky 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 midway between Toledo to the west and Cleveland to the east.

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

In 2011, Sandusky was ranked No. 1 by as the "Best Place to Live Cheaply" in the United States.[9] The city has a median family income of $64,000.[9]

Sandusky is home to the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and its flagship amusement park, Cedar Point. Cedar Point has one of the largest collections of roller coasters in the world.

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


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Geography 3
    • Topography 3.1
    • Climate 3.2
    • Local areas 3.3
  • Demographics 4
    • 2010 census 4.1
    • 2000 census 4.2
  • Tourism 5
    • Cedar Point 5.1
    • Islands/boating 5.2
    • Waterparks 5.3
  • Transportation 6
  • Education 7
  • Media 8
  • Economy 9
    • Top employers 9.1
  • Perkins Township 10
  • Notable people 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


The accepted etymology is that the name Sandusky is derived from the Wyandot word saandusti, 'water in water-pools'[10] or andusti, 'cold water',[11] but in his 1734 history of New France, Charlevoix interpreted the phrase as "Chinouski". The name "L.(Lac) Sandoski" appears on a 1733 map,[12] while Sandusky Bay is identified as Lac (Lake) Sandouské on a 1718 map by Guillaume DeLisle.[13]


The City of Sandusky, Ohio, was established in 1818. Part of the city quickly enveloped the site of another prior small village named "Portland" (established about 1816), and eventually the City of Sandusky also encompassed most of the entire township that had also been called Portland.[14] 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 upon "Ogontz' place".

Prior to the abolition of slavery in the United States, Sandusky was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. As depicted in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, many slaves seeking to reach freedom in Canada made their way to Sandusky, where they boarded boats crossing Lake Erie to the port of Amherstburg in Ontario.

Downtown Sandusky was designed according to a modified grid plan, known as the Kilbourne Plat after its designer. The original street pattern featured a grid overlaid with streets resembling the symbols of Freemasonry. Hector Kilbourne was a surveyor who laid out this grid in downtown Sandusky. He was the first Worshipful Master of the first Sandusky Masonic Lodge known as Science Lodge #50. It is still in operation on Wayne St.

Sandusky was the site of groundbreaking for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad on September 17, 1835. Currently, Battery Park Marina is located on original site of the MR&LE Railroad. The tracks that ran through downtown Sandusky have since been removed. Most of the downtown industrial area is being re-used for other purposes, including mainly marina dockage. The coal docks located west of downtown still use a portion of the original MR&LE right-of-way.

The English author Charles Dickens visited the city in 1842, and briefly wrote of it in his subsequent travelogue, American Notes. Said Dickens, who travelled on 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."

The city was a center of paper-making. The Hinde & Dauch Paper Company was the largest employer in the city in the early 1900s.



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

Sandusky is located at (41.446741, -82.709092).[15]

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.[2]


Sandusky has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa), typical of much of the central United States, with very warm, humid 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 28.4 inches (721.4 mm) of snow per winter.[16] Summers tend to be warm, sometimes hot, with an average July high temperature of 82°F (28°C), and an average July low temperature of 66° (19°C). Summer weather is more stable, generally humid with thunderstorms fairly common. 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.[17]

Climate data for Sandusky, Ohio
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
Average high °F (°C) 32.2
Average low °F (°C) 18.9
Record low °F (°C) −20
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.87
Snowfall inches (cm) 8.8
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.8 9.4 11.0 12.3 12.1 11.2 9.7 9.7 10.1 10.2 11.8 12.0 130.4
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 6.2 4.2 2.1 0.4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.5 3.6 16.8
Source #1: Midwestern Regional Climate Center (normals 1971−2000)[18]
Source #2: Weather Channel (extremes)[17]

Local areas

  • Sandusky—disambiguation of historical locations in Ohio:

Historically, 'Sandusky' is a name that can refer to multiple locations in northern Ohio; often in historical documents, the word "Sandusky" was not clarified as to which specific location was meant, and any historical references to "Sandusky" might mean any one of the following locations, depending also on the date of the reference. 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, officially established by this name in 1818).
  • Sandusky Bay - 1700 to present; early variants were "(Lac d')Otsanderket", "(Lac d')Otsandoske", "Lake Sanduske".
  • Sandusky River - 1740s to present.
  • Fort Sandusky - various locations: from c. 1749 to c. 1754, a French fort ("Fort Sandoské") on the northwest side of Sandusky Bay; or from 1761 until 1763, a British fort on the southeastern side of Sandusky Bay; or from about 1812/1813 a fort (later called "Fort Stephenson") on the Sandusky River, near (now) Fremont, Ohio
  • Lower Sandusky - 1760s to ?, area or village at the (now) city of Fremont, Ohio.
  • Upper Sandusky - 1760s? to present, area or village at the (now) city of Upper Sandusky. Upper Sandusky is south of Sandusky but common first impression is that "Upper" implies "North of". However "Upper" refers to "upstream" as in upstream of Lake Erie by means of the Sandusky River.
  • Upper Sandusky Old Town - 1760s? to ?, a Wyandot/Huron tribe village, about twelve miles northerly of the (now) city of Upper Sandusky.


2010 census

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

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.


Sandusky has a tourism industry fueled by Cedar Point, the neighboring islands, boating, and more recently by its many indoor and outdoor water parks. 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 across Sandusky Bay

In 1870, Louis Zistel, a local businessman, opened a beer garden, bathhouse, and dance floor on the Cedar Point Peninsula. Over the years, the area became a more and more popular destination for relaxation and leisure. In 1892, the park's first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, was built. A hotel called the Bay Shore Hotel was opened in 1899. Cedar Point's second roller coaster, the Figure-Eight Roller Toboggan, opened in 1902. As the years went on, more and more rides and attractions were added to the park including midway games.

Before 1914, the park could only be reached by steamboat, but in that year a roadway was opened connecting the park to the mainland and Sandusky's major roadways. The Cedar Point Marina, one of the largest on the Great Lakes, was completed in 1959.

In 1964, Blue Streak, a wooden roller coaster, was built and named for the local high school's mascot. It is currently the park's oldest operating roller coaster. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Cedar Point shattered countless roller coaster records with rides like Corkscrew (first coaster with three or more inversions), Gemini (tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world when constructed in 1978), Magnum XL-200 (tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world when constructed in 1989), Mean Streak (tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world when constructed in 1991), Raptor (tallest and fastest inverted roller coaster in the world when constructed in 1994), and Mantis (tallest and fastest stand-up roller coaster in the world when constructed in 1996).

In 2000, Millennium Force was built, at 310 feet tall, and 93 miles per hour top speed. In 2003, Cedar Point debuted Top Thrill Dragster. When it was built it was the tallest (420 ft) and the fastest (120 mph) roller coaster in the world. Cedar Point brought its roller coaster total to 17 in 2007 with the construction of Maverick. The park has been known for several years for having the most roller coasters and amusement rides in the world. It has long been nicknamed "America's Roller Coast". It has also been ranked the best amusement park in the world by the Golden Ticket Awards for 15 consecutive years. In 2013, Cedar Point added a 16th coaster called Gatekeeper. It broke records for the tallest, fastest, longest, and steepest winged coaster as of 2013.


May thru 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 of 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 and thousands of residents and tourists join in the festivities annually. In 2008, the residents of Sandusky hosted their first annual "Barge Party",[22] where boats from Toledo, OH all the way to Cleveland, OH came to dock up their boats together at the sandbar, just inside Sandusky's Bay.[23] The barge party (video)[24] ensues twice every year, typically in late June and late July.[23]


Kalahari, an African themed indoor waterpark just outside Sandusky, Ohio.

The tourist draw produced by Cedar Point has drawn resort businesses and waterparks to the area. A list of the major waterparks in and near Sandusky are as follows:




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, DC via Pittsburgh; and the Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and NewYork/Boston via Buffalo. There is also an ongoing (as of January 2011)[25] study into the possibility of commuter rail to Cleveland.[26]

A Greyhound Lines bus station is located on Route 101 at Route 2 south of Sandusky in Margaretta Township.

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

  • M/V Jet Express III - Seasonal daily service to Kelleys Island and South Bass Island connecting to Port Clinton, Ohio. Departs from former Cedar Point pier downtown.


Illustrated map of Sandusky in 1898

Sandusky Public Schools enroll 3,775 students in public primary and secondary schools.[27] The district administers 10 public schools including six elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. Other than public schools, the city is home to one private catholic school, St. Mary Central Catholic High School. Both Sandusky High School and St. Mary Central Catholic High School participate in varsity and junior varsity sports; their teams are called the Blue Streaks and Panthers respectively. Sandusky High's colors are navy and white; SMCC's are blue and gold.


Sandusky (along with nearby Port Clinton and the Lake Erie Islands - known in the region collectively as "Vacationland")[28] 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).[29]

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).[30]

Sandusky has one local television station, religiously oriented WGGN-TV channel 52 (DTV 42). 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 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[31] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Cedar Point 5,627
2 Firelands Regional Health System 2,014
3 Sandusky City School District 810
4 Erie County 590
5 Tsubaki 377
6 Stein Hospice 346
7 Kyklos Bearings International 254
8 Flex-N-Gate 248
9 City of Sandusky 235
10 Sandusky International, Inc. 145

Perkins Township

Perkins Township is a township that lies south of Perkins Avenue, which bisects what is informally considered the Sandusky Metropolitan Area. The Sandusky Mall and the Sandusky Speedway are located south of Perkins Avenue, and therefore lie in Perkins Township. Perkins Township does not have its own main post office, so the township uses Sandusky city's ZIP code of 44870.

Notable people


  1. ^ "City Commission Meet Your Commissioners". City of Sandusky. 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010".  
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  4. ^ "Population Estimates".  
  5. ^ a b c "American FactFinder".  
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  8. ^ American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. February 4, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Fisher, Daniel (2011-08-10). "Best Places To Live Cheaply". Forbes. 
  10. ^ Johnston, John (1858). Vocabularies of the Shawanoese and Wyandott Languages, etc.. 
  11. ^ "Wyandot Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  12. ^ "Composite: British Empire in America. / Popple, Henry / 1733". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  13. ^ "Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi]: dressâee sur un grand nombre de mâemoires entrautres sur ceux de Mr. le Maire / par Guillaume Del'isle del Academie R'le. des Sciences". Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  14. ^ Williams, William W. (1879). History of the Fire Lands, Comprising Huron and Erie Counties, Ohio. Press of Leader Printing Company. p. 431. 
  15. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  16. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Sandusky, Ohio".  Retrieved on 2008-11-13.
  17. ^ a b Monthly Averages for Sandusky, OH. The Weather Channel. Retrieved on 2008-11-13.
  18. ^ "Climate Summaries". Midwestern Regional Climate Center. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Ohio". 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Ohio: Population and Housing Unit Counts". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  21. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b "Welcome". 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten; passenger train from Cleveland to Sandusky: Whatever happened to ... ?". Cleveland Plain Dealer. 16 January 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  26. ^ "Passenger rail service between Cleveland and Sandusky to be studied". Cleveland Plain Dealer. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  27. ^ Great "Sandusky City School District Profile". Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  28. ^ "Vacationland" history - Sandusky Library
  29. ^ BAS Ohio stations - BAS
  30. ^ WLB stations - Elyria-Lorian Broadcasting
  31. ^ "City of Sandusky CAFR" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-03-05. 

External links

  • Sandusky's official website
  • Sandusky travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Sandusky, Ohio at DMOZ
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