Historic pier critical to Vermilion, Ohio economy repaired

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District
Published Dec. 11, 2023
Updated: Dec. 11, 2023
Photo of the newly laid stone used to repair the pier as USACE Buffalo District teammates and contractors inspect the repairs.

Buffalo District teammates along with contracting partners tour the site ensuring improvements are to standard and will allow the harbor to continually be economically viable and provide access for recreation and refuge to boaters on the Great Lakes, Vermilion, Ohio, Nov. 21, 2023. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District is substantially complete on repairs to the Vermilion Harbor west pier. (U.S. Army photo by Andre' M. Hampton)

Photo of the newly laid stone used to repair the pier as USACE Buffalo District teammates and contractors inspect the repairs.

Buffalo District teammates along with contracting partners tour the site at the end of the pier ensuring improvements are to standard and will allow the harbor to continually be economically viable and provide access for recreation and refuge to boaters on the Great Lakes, Vermilion, Ohio, Nov. 21, 2023. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District is substantially complete on repairs to the Vermilion Harbor west pier. (U.S. Army photo by Andre' M. Hampton)

Repairs to the west pier in Vermilion, Ohio are complete, revitalizing protection for beachgoers and boaters, and ensuring the economic viability of the city’s harbor. 

Why it matters: Vermilion’s piers shield the entrance to the Vermilion River, Main Street Beach, and nearby homes from damage and erosion caused by Lake Erie. 

  • Boat trips and spending at the harbor generate an estimated $6.9 million in revenue for local tourism and business, including more than $200,000 from 13 charter fishing boats. 

  • The harbor supports more than 44 full-time jobs and a combined $15 million in impact to the regional economy. 

  • Vermilion harbor is a “harbor of refuge,” offering shelter to boats exposed to challenging weather and water conditions. 

How it happened: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the repair faster than originally planned, to avoid impacting to the city’s summer beach and tourism season. 

  • About 4,700 tons of new stone – some as large as a home dishwasher – and crushed rock was used to re-build 900 feet of the 1,333-foot pier, from Main Street Beach to the north end. 

  • The pier was rebuilt to its original height, and a new layer of stone was added to the original design on the lake side, increasing protection for the navigation channel and the beach. 

  • Check out photos of the project here

What you should know: Storms, waves and ice are what caused the 183-year-old pier to break down before repairs. They also pose a safety risk to the public. 

  • Structures like the pier are designed for navigation and are not meant to be walked on. Wave action from Lake Erie can be dangerous to people walking on the pier. 

  • When boating in or around the harbor, monitor the weather, observe speed limits and safety rules on local waterways, and always wear life vest. 

  • Read more about the project here