See a timeline of Lorain County History (PDF)
Heman Ely came here in the early 1800s, and quickly recognized the area's unique potential and beauty. It reminded him of the pleasant times he had spent in the Lorraine Region of France. The industries such as shipbuilding, steelmaking, and fishing brought people, money and railroads to the area. A growing economy attracted more residents, and in 1822 Lorain County was formed from parts of Cuyahoga, Medina, and Huron counties.
The Lorain U.S. Steel Plant still remains an industrial icon of the county. Like other local landmarks, the Steel Mill remains part of the County's history. The presence of the Steel Mill has allowed Lorain to become a major city and a destination for people in search of employment. The steel industry created jobs for over a thousand workers, who moved their families from across the northern United States.
The Steel Mill continued to spur further development in Lorain. It acquired many acres of surrounding land, located just south of the Black River. This area was termed South Lorain, and provided housing for incoming steelworkers and their families. Decades later, some of these families still claim South Lorain as their hometown. Today, some of the original industries still exist, but on a smaller scale.
The Legacy of Lorain County Continues
The heritage of Lorain County is everywhere - from the early home of the "Spirit of '76" painter, Archibald Willard in Wellington, Ohio, through the Historic Harbourtown 1837 shopping district of Vermilion and the real ship pilot house at the Inland Seas Maritime Museum, to the county seat of Elyria.
Lorain County still offers a panorama of sites and scenery. On the north, there is the "Jewel of the Port", the historic Lorain Lighthouse. Further south in Elyria sits the Hickories Museum, the restored home of industrialist and pioneer automaker Arthur Garford (friend of Theodore Roosevelt). Oberlin College has the world-famous Conservatory of Music, and was the first college in the country to admit both men and women as well as African-Americans to degree programs.
A shoreline beach along Lake Erie called Lakeview Park offers spectacular sunsets, sites of historical bathhouses, a stunning rose garden, a quaint café and views of the Lorain Lighthouse. A town in Avon, Ohio called French Creek is a center for antiques and crafts, and is becoming known as "the Ruhr of the West Side" for its rapid industrial and commercial growth.