The Story of 10 Michigan Lighthouses

Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington State Park.

Michigan is known for promoting the preservation of its lighthouses. This is particularly important given the sheer number of lighthouses that the state has, scattered along its 3200 miles shoreline! Visiting the unique lighthouses is a good way to learn about shipwrecks, keepers and life savers of the Great Lakes as many of the lighthouses that are no longer in use now serve as museums. However, if these visits are not possible, reading our list is the next best thing.

10. Big Sable Point Light

The Big Sable Point Light is built on the eastern banks of Lake Michigan close to Ludington. Its construction was prompted by the need to provide light for navigators sailing in the lake after twelve vessels wrecked in the Big Sable area in 1855. It was put up in 1866 at a cost of $35,000 and was the first lighthouse in the area. It has a tower height of 34 metres. Its currently white and black watchtower was originally painted white and red. The lighthouse’s plumbing and electricity was done late in the 1940s.

9. Point Betsie Light

The lighthouse is the primary attraction of Benzie County and is among the most photographed in America. It is built on Lake Michigan’s north-eastern shores with the city of Frankfort to its south. It was commissioned in 1854 but was completed in 1858 at a cost of $5,000 before it started functioning in 1859. The Life Saving Station of the lighthouse erected in 1875 was among the earliest facilities of its kind. It was automated in 1983 after having been manned for 106 years. Its tower has a height of 12 metres.

8. Little Sable Point Light

The light point is built on Lake Michigan, with Pentwater being ten miles to its north. Its tower is 33 metres in height, brick red in colour with a copper roof. The construction of the light point was approved by Congress in 1871 after a schooner known as Pride was wrecked in the area in 1866. It was put up in 1874 and it was automated in 1954. Since June 2006, the lighthouse has been open to the public and is protected by the government as a state owned park.

7. Grand Traverse Light

The Grand Traverse Light is located on Leelanau Peninsula’s apex where Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay separate. The lighthouse’s museum is a primary attraction of Leelanau State Park in Leelanau County. The present structure was built in 1858 as an upgrade an earlier light point in which had been built in the same location in 1852. Today, one can visit the lighthouse and its fog signal building to see exhibits on foghorns, other lighthouses in the area, shipwrecks as well as learn about local history.

6. Old Mackinac Point Light

The landmark lighthouse marks the intersection of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. It was built in 1892; two years after its fog station had been built. Its tower is 15 metres in height, cylindrical in shape with the keepers dwelling attached to it. It served as a light point until 1957 when the lit Mackinac Bridge was completed. Renovations on the tower took place prior to its reopening in 2004, when it opened to the public as a museum. The lighthouse is widely photographed.

5. Fort Gratiot Light

The Fort Gratiot Light is notable for having been the first lighthouse in Michigan. The first structure was put up in 1825 but it was brought down by a raging storm three years later. The current structure was built in 1829 with a tower height of 20 metres. In 1961, the height of the tower was increased to the current height of 25 metres. The keeper’s house, a duplex made of bricks was built in 1874. Its fog station was put up in 1900 and in 1932; its Coast Guard structure was built. It became a historic site in 1971 and since 2012 the public can take guided tours inside the facility.

4. Crisp Point Light

The Crisp Point Light is built on the banks of Lake Superior and apart from providing light to mariners in the area, it also had a Life Saving Station, one of the five along the lake. Its construction began in 1903, and it started functioning in 1904. Its conical shaped tower has a height of 18 metres and its light can be seen from a distance of 24 kilometres. It was deactivated in 1992. In November 2012, the towers light was re-established to aid mariners and in 2013, it started functioning again, albeit seasonally. It has an operational visitor centre.

3. Eagle Harbor Light

The lighthouse that is located at Eagle Harbor is still operational, guiding sailors on Lake Superior. It was first built in 1851 due to an increase in the number of vessels docking in the area. The original tower was wooden and it was built on the keeper’s house. The structure was replaced with the current lighthouse in 1871. The tower is octagonal in shape and rises to a height of 13 metres. The light of the tower is operated by the Coast Guard, but the museum is under the Keweenaw County Historical Society.

2. Cheboygan Crib Light

The Cheboygan Crib Light is located on Lake Huron, marking a dock situated where Cheboygan River drains into the lake. It is one of the main attractions of the Gordon Turner Park. It was first built in 1884 with a height of 7.6 metres, without a keeper’s house attached to it. The painting of the structure in white was done in 1901 to enhance its visibility. The modern concrete structure was built in 1903 and a fog bell was added to it in 1906. The bell was automated in 1911 and the light later in 1922.

1. Sturgeon Point Light

The lighthouse was built on Lake Huron in 1869 to keep sailors from a reef near its location. It has a tower height of 22 metres in the shape of a cone’s frustum. The 3½ -order lens used in the light house was one of the twelve used around America. A Life Saving Station was added to the lighthouse in 1875 and it was integrated to the Coast Guard in 1915. The lighthouse was automated in 1939. Currently, the facility is under the Alcona Historical Society and visitors are allowed into the tower during summer.

More in Travel