The Port of Sandusky is the seat of Erie County, Ohio. It is located on Lake Erie's biggest natural harbor, Sandusky Bay. The Port of Sandusky is about 47 nautical miles (82 kilometers or 51 miles direct) west of the Port of Cleveland. The Port of Sandusky is about 42 nautical miles (68 kilometers or 42 miles direct), across Lake Erie, southeast of the Port of Toledo. The 2010 US Census reported a population of 27.8 thousand people in the city and a 77.1 thousand in the Port of Sandusky metropolitan area.
The Port of Sandusky's harbor and nearby islands have made it a popular summer recreation area, making tourism the city's main economic sector. Coal shipping is also important to the local Port of Sandusky economy, as are fishing, wineries, and manufacturing. Manufacturers produce food processing equipment, automotive parts, steel, iron castings, paper products, and chemicals and plastic. Forbes.com named the Port of Sandusky the "Best Place to Live Cheaply" in the United States.
In 1818, the City of Sandusky was established, quickly absorbing the village of Portland. Before slavery was abolished in the United States, the Port of Sandusky was a major Underground Railroad stop where fleeing slaves took boats across Lake Erie to Ontario, Canada.
In 1835, the groundbreaking for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad (MR&LE) took place in the Port of Sandusky. Today's Battery Park Marina is located on the MR&LE's original site. While most of the old industrial downtown area is used for different purposes today, the Port of Sandusky coal docks still use part of the old MR&LE rail tracks.
In the early 20th Century, the Hinde & Dauch Paper Company was the Port of Sandusky's biggest employer, and the city was a regional paper-making center.