The History of the Cleveland Life-Saving Service: Part 3 of 3

The History of the Cleveland Life-Saving Service: Part 3 of 3

Creating an Ohio Historic Marker

In two previous posts ( and I highlighted the heroism of the Cleveland Life-Saving Service, and the efforts of Keeper Charles E. Motley and his crew to rescue those stranded and drowning from the waters of Lake Erie. Although this research has proved to be extremely interesting to pursue, I am nagged persistently by the feeling that I could do more. How, 109 years later, can Keeper Motley and his crew be honored for all that they did for the Cleveland community?

Luckily, the Ohio History Connection has established the Ohio Historical Markers program, which works to honor and commemorate people and events throughout Ohio. I’m sure as you have traveled throughout the state you have seen these markers along roadsides or in downtown areas. The website, has an updated list of all of the current markers organized by county. The great thing about historical markers, in my opinion, is that as you go about your day-to-day routine, when you come across a historical marker, they give you the opportunity to meditate on events that may have happened on or near that very location that you are standing. As cars speed by and we are distracted by the ever-changing environments in which we live, standing for a few moments to read a marker reminds us that there was in fact, a time that came before.


Visitors to the Cleveland area should have this same opportunity to pause and reflect, as they look out onto the waters of Lake Erie, on the heroic acts of those who served as part of the Cleveland Life-Saving Service. The placement of a historical marker in proximity to the former location of the Life-Saving Station would honor Keeper Motley and the Life-Saving crew by serving as a physical reminder of their deeds, as well as by representing the support and gratification of the community of Cleveland.

Establishing a Historical Marker involves completing an application packet, providing a location for marker placement, and marker sponsorship. As a blog reader, this is where you can really make a difference and help to make this a reality! Ideally, the marker should be placed along Lake Erie, and near the entrance to the Cuyahoga River (where the Life-Saving Station once existed). Other than those details, I really would love advice on locations where the marker could be read and appreciated by the public. Marker sponsorship is definitely the most important aspect of creating a historical marker in that it solidifies the community recognition of the Life-Saving Service as worthy of permanent remembrance. Also, realistically, markers cost money! They must be paid for in order to be created by Sewah Studios, located in Marietta, Ohio. Without community sponsorship, a marker to honor the Motley Crew, and others of the Life-Saving Service simply CANNOT happen. Charles Motley and the Life-Saving Service contributed so much to the Cleveland community and the history of Ohio, so  now, it is our time to contribute as a community to honor him.


I would be thrilled to hear any advice on possible locations for marker placement, or for interest in sponsorship of the marker. If you would like to find out more about how to sponsor this marker, I can be reached by email, [email protected] or by phone at 614-298-2068.

Posted May 3, 2016
Topics: TransportationHistoric PreservationArchaeology

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