South Bass Island and Perry’s Victory Monument

A critical moment in the early history of the United States, and also the Midwest, was the Battle of Lake Erie, where the Navy secured the large body of water for America from British control.

On my journey from Toledo to Cleveland, I decided to take the ferry out to South Bass Island from Catawba Island, which is attached to the mainland by bridges.

The islands in Lake Erie are actually very interesting, as they are solid bedrock, and there are even caves on some of them.

The ferry lands at the Lime Kiln docks, where there are dramatic cliffs.

The name is obvious once you arrive, and I was interested in how the kiln looks so similar to the one here in the St. Louis region out at Rockwoods Reservation.

You can buy tickets to Put-In-Bay from a couple of fun-loving gentlemen who drive an old schoolbus for a couple of dollars.

The monument to Commodore Perry and International Peace is located in town, and is based off a long tradition of Roman victory monuments such as the Column of Trajan in Rome or the later Neoclassical Napoleonic Era Vendôme Column or Place Bastille in Paris, though ironically here it is in the Greek Doric Order.

The ornament in the granite is simply fluting in the shaft.

I suspect there is a flame at times at night in the brazier at the top. Unfortunately, the observation deck was closed due to lightning hitting the monument and damaging the elevator machinery. I asked if I could just climb up the staircase and I got laughed at.

The brazier also reminds me of ancient Greek tripod cauldrons, of which the Delphic one is the most famous–though obviously in this case there are many more legs.

Two large kraters, with the names of the dual American warships’ names flank the entrance. Basically Perry’s strategy was for one warship to commit to a suicidal attack on the British navy, inflicting as much damage as possible without concern for the lives of the sailors or the ship, and then the rest of the American fleet would come in and mop up the now severely damaged enemy ships left. It worked, but came at a horrible cost to the first ship. Nice guy.

There are beautiful views of the other islands in the lake.

The monument also serves as a peace memorial, and the bodies of both British and American officers are interred next to each other in the base of the column.

Note the American, British and Canadian flags.

As can be seen below, our own Gateway Arch kicks everyone else’s butt.

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