Sandusky is the county seat of Erie County, Ohio. "Sandusky" means "at the cold water" in Wyandot. Founded in 1817, Sandusky originally was called Portland. In 1838, the Ohio government created Erie County and established Sandusky as the county seat.
Sandusky grew quickly. By 1846, approximately three thousand people resided in the town. Two railroads served the community, and it was an important harbor on Lake Erie, making Sandusky an important economic center. In 1846, Sandusky merchants exported 843,746 bushels of wheat. The town consisted of numerous stores, two printing offices, two machine shops, two banks, six churches, one high school, and several iron furnaces. During the 1840s and 1850s, Sandusky also was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, with many residents assisting fugitive slaves in their search for freedom by transporting the African Americans to Canada.
By 1880, Sandusky's population had reached almost sixteen thousand residents. This much larger population resulted in an increasing number of social institutions, including twenty churches and three newspapers. The community also became more economically diverse, with at least twenty-nine businesses with ten or more employees. Among the items that Sandusky businesses produced were lime, railroad locomotives and cars, carriages, wheels, crayons, chalk, beer, paper, baskets, and tools. In 1886, residents boasted that they were the leading manufacturers of wooden wheels in the United States. That same year, Sandusky was home to the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Home and the Ohio State Fish Hatchery.
With the dawn of the twentieth century and the advent of automobiles and trucks, Sandusky's importance as a shipping center declined. Today, the city boasts approximately twenty-eight thousand residents. Many of these people find employment in tourism, including working at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky. A fishing industry, which had existed since the nineteenth century, continues to flourish today. Sandusky officials claim that their city is the "largest fresh water fish market in the world."