The Port of Huron is located in Erie County, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie about 40 nautical miles (84 kilometers or 52 miles direct) west-northwest of the Port of Cleveland. The Port of Huron is almost 48 nautical miles (71 kilometers or 44 miles direct) across Lake Erie east of the Port of Toledo. The 2010 US Census reported a population of about 7100 people in the Port of Huron.
The Port of Huron is part of the Sandusky, Ohio, metropolitan area. A branch campus of Bowling Green State University, BGSU Firelands, is located to the west of the Port of Huron. In 2006, more than two thousand students were enrolled at BGSU. In 2006, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources acquired the former ConAgra Foods facility in the Port of Huron. The almost 20 acre site is an important part of the Port of Huron waterfront, and the Department of Natural Resources has created a public access site for boaters and fishers. The Port of Huron plans to further develop the waterfront site to contain condominiums, retail stores, restaurants, and green spaces.
In the 15th and 16th Centuries, the Erie Nation lived in the future Port of Huron area. The Erie lived in fortified villages containing multi-family long houses where they grew corn, squash, and beans that supplemented the meat hunters contributed to the community.
The Erie had little contact with Europeans. Seeking beaver pelts, they invaded other tribal territories. In 1651, they welcomed Huron refugees fleeing the Iroquois, garnering the anger of the Iroquois League. While they did not treat the Huron well, they refused to hand them over to the Iroquois. The Iroquois subsequently declared war on the Erie. As a result, the Erie confederacy ceased to exist as a tribe, and they were either killed or absorbed into the Iroquois.
Some Erie escaped into the Ohio Seneca Nation who called them the Mingo. The Mingo were included in the Seneca removal to the Indian Territory in the 1840s. Today's Oklahoma Seneca likely contains Erie descendants.
The Port of Huron was at the heart of the "Firelands" of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The first European settler in the future Port of Huron was Canadian John Baptiste Flemmond, a trapper, interpreter, and trader who built a trading post on the banks of the Huron River in 1792.
The township and village of Huron were incorporated in 1809. By the 1820s, Port of Huron facilities had grown up on the west bank of the Huron. In the 1830s, the Port of Huron had become an important ship-building center.
The arrival of the Wheeling and Lake Erie (W&LE) Railway stimulated more growth of the Port of Huron on the east bank of the river in the early 1880s. In 1884, the Port of Huron received the first load of iron ore at the W&LE docks. The Port of Huron is still active, receiving limestone and iron ore carried by lake freighters.
Before environmental pollution destroyed the industry in the 1970s, the Port of Huron was the home port for commercial fishing fleets. The Port of Huron was the base of industrial and commercial growth in the area.
By the early 1960s, the Port of Huron boasted a healthy downtown that attracted tourists in the summer. However, when highways were improved and bypassed the Port of Huron, the downtown area began to decline.
In the late 1960s, the city undertook an urban renewal program that created a good deal of controversy. The city acquired, sometimes through eminent domain, and then demolished almost 40 private homes and commercial buildings to build the Huron Boat Basin, a municipal marina. The marina became a popular gathering place for the Port of Huron community, but other redevelopment plans were not realized. Rather, new commercial and industrial development in the Port of Huron has been to at south and west of the city.