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Port Clinton, Ohio
Downtown Port Clinton
Downtown Port Clinton
Flag of Port Clinton, Ohio
Location of Port Clinton, Ohio
Location of Port Clinton, Ohio
Location of Port Clinton in Ottawa County
Location of Port Clinton in Ottawa County
Country United States
State Ohio
County Ottawa
 • Total 2.36 sq mi (6.11 km2)
 • Land 2.13 sq mi (5.52 km2)
 • Water 0.23 sq mi (0.60 km2)
581 ft (177 m)
 • Total 6,056
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,900.89/sq mi (1,119.78/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 419
FIPS code 39-64150
GNIS feature ID 1061564

Port Clinton is a city in and the county seat of Ottawa County, located at the mouth of the Portage River on Lake Erie, about 44 miles east of Toledo. The population was 6,056 at the 2010 census.

The city has been nicknamed the "Walleye Capital of the World", due to the productive fishing waters for the species lying offshore in Lake Erie's Western Basin. The annual Walleye Drop on New Year's Eve in downtown Port Clinton reflects this nickname.


Residents established the community in 1828 on the shores of Lake Erie. They named the town after DeWitt Clinton, a governor of New York who was instrumental in creating the Erie Canal. Port Clinton grew slowly. In 1846, only sixty homes existed in the community. Although the town had an excellent harbor, little shipping occurred. The town remained relatively small throughout the nineteenth century, with a population of 1,600 in 1880 and 2,049 residents in 1890. By 1886, Port Clinton contained three newspaper offices, four churches, and one bank. Several manufacturing businesses existed in the town, with the largest being A. Couche & Company, a sawmill that employed ten workers. Most businesses provided services or products to farmers in the surrounding countryside.

During the twentieth century, Port Clinton's population continued to grow. In 2000, 6,391 residents lived in the community. As a whole, Ottawa County experienced a 2.4 percent increase in population between 1990 and 2000. Many of these new residents had left nearby Toledo, hoping to find a quieter lifestyle in Ottawa County. Numerous Port Clinton residents find employment in the tourism industry, operating restaurants, owning antique stores, or providing tourists with lodging in various inns and bed and breakfasts.


Port Clinton is located at 41°30′35″N 82°56′25″W / 41.50972°N 82.94028°W / 41.50972; -82.94028 (41.509857, -82.940156).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.28 square miles (5.91 km2), of which 2.08 square miles (5.39 km2) is land and 0.20 square miles (0.52 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 249
1870 543
1880 1,600 194.7%
1890 2,049 28.1%
1900 2,450 19.6%
1910 3,007 22.7%
1920 3,928 30.6%
1930 4,408 12.2%
1940 4,505 2.2%
1950 5,541 23.0%
1960 6,870 24.0%
1970 7,202 4.8%
1980 7,229 0.4%
1990 7,106 −1.7%
2000 6,391 −10.1%
2010 6,056 −5.2%
Est. 2019 6,176 2.0%

As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $35,564, and the median income for a family was $44,579. Males had a median income of $38,949 versus $21,651 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,177. About 7.7% of families and 9.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.2% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 6,056 people, 2,633 households, and 1,614 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,911.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,124.1/km2). There were 3,464 housing units at an average density of 1,665.4 per square mile (643.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.3% White, 2.3% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 1.8% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.8% of the population.

There were 2,633 households, of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.7% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.81.

The median age in the city was 41.5 years. 22.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24% were from 25 to 44; 28.5% were from 45 to 64; and 17.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.8% male and 52.2% female.


Port Clinton's economy benefits from its lakefront situation, with its fishing, boating, and recreational tourism industries providing employment opportunities to many locals. Port Clinton and surrounding attractions in Ottawa and Erie County are collectively known to visitors as "Vacationland", or more recently, Lake Erie's "Shores and Islands". The regional tourist economy is anchored by attractions like Cedar Point, Put-in-Bay, and Kelleys Island. Several hotels are located within the city, which provide lodging for visitors to these and other attractions. Port Clinton is the primary mainland port of the Jet Express, a passenger ferry service to Put-in-Bay. The National Rifle Matches, held at nearby Camp Perry, and the springtime bird migration at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, are two prominent events held annually that contribute to Port Clinton's tourist economy.


Port Clinton is served by the Port Clinton City School District. It operates two elementary schools (Bataan Memorial Elementary), one middle school (Port Clinton Middle), and one high school (Port Clinton High). In 2012, Port Clinton City School District opened a new middle school and an expansion to Bataan Memorial.

Port Clinton is served by Ida Rupp Public Library, which also operates satellite locations in Marblehead and Put-in-Bay.

Notable people

  • Robert Putnam - Political scientist, author, and Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, Putnam grew up in Port Clinton. He uses the city as a template in his book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis to examine changes in the American economic and social landscape.
  • Chris Redfern - politician, former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, and former member of the Ohio House and its Minority Leader.
  • Henry Semon - Oregon state legislator
  • Louis C. Shepard - American Civil War Medal of Honor recipient from Ashtabula County, buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Port Clinton, Ottawa County, Ohio.
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