Vermilion, Ohio is the crowning jewel of the south shore of Lake Erie. From quaint shops to fine dining, the arts, entertainment and unmatched festivities, Vermilion truly has it all. Be reminded of a simpler time when an afternoon at the beach, a hand-dipped ice cream cone and a stroll along Main Street made your day special. Stay for a day, maybe two, and take home a memory that will last forever. This enchanting little town has always been a sea side community with New England style atmosphere. This is the kind of town that still has a working soda fountain, a town square and summer concerts on the green. People here actually sit on their front porches on a summer evening. Visiting boats are not only welcomed, they are an important part of the ambiance of what locals call “Harbour Town.”
The City of Vermilion is situated along the Southern shore of Lake Erie and embraces the Vermilion River. Vermilion was once known as the “Village of Lake Captains,” and no other place in Ohio has so many beautifully maintained captains’ homes in its historic district.
Our Harbour Town Historic District also features housing styles from the Victorian, Italianate, Arts and Crafts, and Queen Anne eras. Take an evening stroll in our gracious neighborhoods and experience the quality of life of a bygone era. Other neighborhoods retain the charm of Summer Lake cottages nestled along the shore, while contemporary construction blends with yesterday’s heritage.
The Vermilion River, which flows into Lake Erie, endows marina facilities with more than 1,000 boat slips and ramps for easy access to the Lake, earning Vermilion the title of the “Largest Small Boat Harbour on the Great Lakes.” Lake freighters are also a regular sight on Lake Erie making their way through the Great Lakes nine months out of the year.
Public docks are within walking distance of a museum, Bed & Breakfasts, dozens of retail stores and restaurants ranging from family style to fine French cuisine, a beach and several parks, and a variety of art galleries. The wealth of attractions so close to protected dockage makes Vermilion a very popular cruising destination.
Rare is the port of call with as much to offer. The Harbour Town 1837 Historic District is the center of our attractive Vermilion community. Located in the heart of this district is Historic Downtown Vermilion. Our picturesque and quaint Historic Downtown Vermilion is the focal point for offices, the City Administration, the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Vermilion, restaurants, shops, galleries, marinas, the Vermilion Mainline and tourist activities. Our community is dedicated to making Vermilion your destination for a day, a week, or an entire lifetime. Community wide revitalization efforts have encouraged property owners to retain the unique charm of their businesses and homes while maintaining high standards of care and construction. Nowhere will you find a community with such a diversity of housing, reasonable tax base, educational excellence, and New England style charm.
Vermilion is recognized for its festivals and community events, including the Great Lakes Pirate Fest and Vermilion Harbour Triathlon/Duathlon. The Woollybear Festival is a one-day gathering that draws over 150,000 visitors to our city and includes the longest parade in Ohio. The Festival of the Fish, held each June, is a three-day event drawing visitors to take part in our celebration of the sea. Historic SummerFare – Antiques, Collectibles & Artisans in the Park brings thousands of visitors for the annual car show, street dance and Antiques in the Park. Outdoor movies and concerts are offered all summer long, as well as Second Saturday Citywide Sales. Christmas in July celebrates winter in summer with Santa arriving by riverboat. Santa returns by way of the Christmas tree ship, Vermilion’s re-enactment of the 1887 Rousse Simmons, in December. Art shows are planned throughout the year. Additional events include Scavenger Hunts, the Annual Chocolate Festival, Taste of Vermilion, the Annual Gardeners Fair, the Annual Duck Dash 500, Crusin’ Car Show, and much, much more.
Vermilion River Reservation is home to the the picturesque Bacon House Museum at Mill Hollow. Walk through the original settler Benjamin Bacon’s house, built in 1845. The museum features themes of daily living and puts an emphasis on the community life, including the profound effect the railroad had on the economy and on people’s lives.
The City of Vermilion, population 10,927, is nestled in both Erie and Lorain Counties and borders Lake Erie and the scenic Vermilion River. Our 16 block Historic Downtown Vermilion serves as the Central Business District (CBD), which consists of City Administration Offices and Municipal Court, many retail businesses, professional offices, waterfront restaurants, marinas, and cultural entertainment and activities. The City of Vermilion is located just 35 miles west of Cleveland with world class cultural activities and within close proximity of Interstate 80-90, State Route 2, US Route 6, State Route 60, State Route 113, and rail, water, and air transportation. Cedar Point, the most popular tourist destination in Ohio, is only minutes away to the west and ferry services provide hi-speed passenger service to Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay. The city is also adjacent to the Lorain County Metro Park system and the Erie County Metro Park system. Just outside Vermilion you’ll discover gently rolling hills of picturesque countryside. The area is known for its many orchards, wineries, alpaca farms and roadside fruit and vegetable stands.
Harbour Town is home to dozens of retail shops, restaurants, professional businesses, marinas, accommodations and tourist activities. Visit Harbour Town by car or boat. Downtown public docks are within walking distance of a museum, dozens of boutiques, art galleries and fine dining. Harbour Town is also home to a beach and several parks. Enjoy the sandy beach, recreational boating of every kind, jet skis, canoeing, sailing and more where ship building was once the major industry. On summer nights, residents and visitors congregate on the large deck at Main Street Beach to watch boats sail back and forth in front of the beautiful Lake Erie sunset and enjoy the Mystic Belle, a small paddle wheeler, offering rides on the Vermilion River.
Paimpol is a small town on the northern coast of Brittany in north-west France. It is a very popular tourist destination, especially during the summer months when people are attracted by its port and beaches. This enchanting town is notable for its pink granite cliffs which mark the boundary between land and sea and its oyster beds which provide a substantial portion of the town’s economy.
It’s a nightmarish scene in the countryside of Vermilion on Gore Road over one hundred years ago. A gigantic fire engulfs an old orphanage burning dozens of young children alive. Desperate to escape the inferno, the children on the second floor found the stairs blocked by flames. Dreadful screams of the children trapped inside the blazing building pierce the ears of horrified onlookers unable to stop the carnage. The deadly destruction continues until the screams finally fall silent and the only sound that lingers is the crackling and roar of the hellish flames. The smoke ascends into the night sky, carrying with it the souls of over 100 poor orphan children. The building is soon reduced to a pile of glowing embers with only a remnant of the foundation and stone pillars forever preserved for future generations to happen upon.
The Real Story of Gore Orphanage & Swift’s Hollow
For over a century visitors to Gore Orphanage Road have reported strange experiences of glowing lights, apparitions and chilling cries of unseen children. The area is said to be one of the most haunted locations in Ohio.
The new orphanage site, just outside of Vermilion, consisted of four sets of farm buildings and covered 543 acres. An abandoned mansion was also located on the property. The once magnificent Greek revival house was built in the mid-nineteenth century by Joseph Swift, a successful farmer. Its many rooms were appointed with elaborate furnishings, ornate woodwork, marble columns, and other lavish decorations. But to the Swift mansion soon came bad luck. In 1831, Swift’s 5 year-old daughter Tryphenia died. In 1841, Swift’s 24 year-old son, Heman, also died. Soon after Swift’s fortunes dried up due to poor investments in the railroad business. He sold the home to Nicholas Wilber, a renowned Spiritualist. Mysterious rituals and seances were said to be held regularly in the secluded mansion home conjuring up the spirits of deceased children. The ghosts of children were said to appear frequently at the seances held in a special room of the home. Wilber’s children were rumored to be psychic and could communicate with the ghosts of dead children. While records and gravestones claim that four Wilber grandchildren died from a diphtheria epidemic after the Wilbers moved from the home, residents insisted that they died at the Swift mansion and were buried there. The home was abandoned in 1901, and teenagers almost immediately began taking trips to the site, daring each other to enter the infamous haunted home.
Shortly before the investigation, in 1908, a disaster took place in the town of Collinwood, some forty miles east of Vermilion. 176 elementary school students were burned or trampled to death when they became trapped in a stampede situation and couldn’t escape a fire that was consuming their school. The children began descending down the stairs to the exit after the fire alarm was sounded, but the front stairwell was blocked by flames. According to witnesses, the children at the front broke from the lines and tried “to fight their way back to the floor above, while those who were coming down shoved them mercilessly back into the flames below.” Those who made it to the rear exit found it locked. Outside rescuers unlocked it but found it opened inward, so it was impossible to move against the press of dozens of desperate bodies. The fire swept through the hall, springing from one child to another, catching their hair and the dresses of the girls. The cries of the children were dreadful and haunting. The school’s janitor, a German-American named Herter, was accused of setting the blaze (though he lost four children in the fire and was badly burned trying to rescue one), and for a time he was detained in protective custody to keep residents from lynching him.