I love lighthouses. I love to visit them and photograph them, but most of all I like to draw them. These are some of my favorites.
Page 2 Michigan
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
Port Huron, Michigan

Fort Gratiot, named after General Charles Gratiot, the engineer in charge of its construction, was established in 1814 to guard the juncture of Lake Huron and the St. Clair River.

Its lighthouse, the oldest in Michigan, was constructed north of the fort in 1829.

Originally sixty-five feet high, the white painted brick tower was extended to its present height of eighty-six feet in the early 1860s. The green flashing light that was automated in 1933 may be seen for seventeen miles. The two-story brick light keeper's house, with its hipped gable roof and pointed gothic porch, was built in 1874-75.

Today, Coast Guardsmen are stationed at this point and occupy the keeper's house. The lighthouse watches over one of the busiest waterways in the world.

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse
Barker, New York

Founded in 1889, Old Mackinac Point Light Station was in operation from 1890 until 1957. The lighthouse is located within Michilimackinac State Park, just a few hundred feet east of the Mackinac Bridge.

The lighthouse is currently undergoing restoration. The restoration of the light station to its 1910 appearance includes the exteriors and interiors of the buildings as well as the grounds. The lighthouse contains the restored keeper’s quarters and hands-on exhibits throughout the fully-accessible first floor. Costumed interpreters provide regular tours, including guiding groups up the lighthouse tower.

Isle Royale Lighthouse
Isle Royale, Michigan

Isle Royale lies out in Lake Superior some sixty miles to the north of the Keweenaw peninsula, and a scant 14 miles south of the Canadian north shore.

With the discovery of copper on the island in 1843, two separate mining camps were established, one in Siskiwit Bay on the southeastern end of the island and the other at Rock Harbor to the north. To serve vessels seeking to load copper at the latter, the Rock Harbor Light was established at the entrance to the harbor in 1855. Unfortunately, simultaneous to the establishment of the light, the copper boom on the island ended, and the Light was extinguished and the station discontinued and abandoned in 1859.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, and a resulting increase in metals consumption, miners once again set their sights on Isle Royale, and new and more efficient mines were established at Siskiwit Bay on the southeast shore and McCargo Cove on the northwest. Thriving communities grew up around these mines to support the mining and shipment of copper, and with a resurgence in maritime traffic making for the island to transport copper south through the Sault Locks, the old Rock Harbor Light was reactivated in August, 1874.

McGulpin's Point Lighthouse
McGulpin's Point, Michigan

During the 1850's, vessel traffic through the Straits of Mackinac was increasing rapidly, and while the Waugoshance Light had been constructed to mark the passage toward the Straits, there absence of a navigational aid within the Straits themselves made passage during darkness and periods of low visibility somewhat difficult.

The McGulpin's Point Lighthouse went into service in 1869, marking the southwestern side of the entrance to the Straits of Mackinac. In 1892, a lighthouse was built on Mackinac Point, just two miles west of McGulpin's Point. The Mackinac Point Lighthouse was located on the most northerly point of Michigan's lower peninsula, and could be seen by vessels entering the Straits of Mackinac from both the west and east. The McGulpin's Point Lighthouse thus became redundant and was retired in 1906 after just 37 years of service.

This light is now a private residence, and as such is not open to the public.

Huron Island Lighthouse
Huron Island, Michigan

The Huron Island Lighthouse became an active aid to navigation on October 20,1868, when its 3 1/2 order Fresnel lens and lamp were lit for the first time.

When the locks at Sault Ste Marie were opened in 1855, opening Lake Superior up to navigation with the rest of the Great Lakes system, the Huron Islands, near the Huron River, and Granite Island, 12 miles north of Marquette, became areas of navigational concern. The islands were located at a critical point on the route to or from the lower entry of the Keweenaw Waterway. They also looked to be easy to sail to but did have some dangerous unmarked reefs close by. As early as 1858 the Lighthouse Board was requesting that one of the Huron Islands be set aside for lighthouse purposes.

The Huron Island light and its keepers have seen a number of shipwrecks despite the warnings given by the light ang fog whistle. The last loss of life near the light happened in a storm in 1961 when a fishing tug overturned. Two of the fishermen, donning life jackets, swam to the islands. A third, the owner of the tug, was not so fortunate. The light is still an active aid to navigation.

Ontonagon Lighhouse
Ontonagon, Michigan

With the copper boom of the 1850's, maritime traffic entering the Ontonagon river blossomed, as vessels entered to deliver supplies to the growing town, and departed laden with copper bound for the hungry industries on the southern lakes. To help guide vessels into the river, the Lighthouse Board constructed the Ontonagon lighthouse in 1853, close to shore on the west bank of the river.

In October 1975, the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places helping to ensure its long term survival. After seven years of political wrangling, in 2003 Congress passed an Act transferring ownership of the lighthouse to the Ontonagon County Historical Society. The structure was officially handed-over to the Society on August 6, 2003, paving the way for a complete restoration of the venerable structure.

The Ontonagon lighthouse sits tight against the west bank of the Ontonagon river. Unfortunately, all the surrounding land on that side of the river is owned by a huge pulp mill, and thus access to the old light station is impossible.

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse
Harrisville, Michigan

Until the early 20th Century, northern Michigan was almost completely dependent on waterborne commerce for all of its needs. Thousands of of sailing vessels and early steamers plied the Great Lakes at a time when there were almost no aids to navigation to guide them along the dangerous coastline with its treacherous rocks, shoals and reefs. One such reef extends 1-12/ miles out into Lake Huron at Sturgeon Point, just north of Harrisville, Michigan. In 1869, the Lighthouse Service began construction of the lighthouse at Sturgeon Point to mark this hazard. Sturgeon Point Lighthouse became operational in the spring of 1870 and has been in continuous service for 128 years. It is still an operational lighthouse.

In 1982 the Alcona Historical Society leased the lighthouse and began a three - year restoration project. The interior of the keeper's house was completely restored, and the buildings were painted.

The light apparatus is still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The keeper's house is now a maritime museum.

Marquette Lighthouse
Marquette, Michigan

The red brick Eagle Harbor Light Station sits on the rocky entrance to the harbor and is a working lighthouse as it guides mariners across the northern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The original lighthouse, built in 1851, was replaced in 1871. The octagonal brick light tower is ten feet in diameter, with walls 12 inches thick and it supports a 10-sided cast iron lantern. The Lighthouse was manned by a head keeper and two assistant keepers.

The light has undergone several changes during the past years. In 1929 a radio beacon was added and in 1930 the light was electrified. In 1968 the original 4th order Fresnel Lens was replaced by a red and white aviation type beacon and in 1980 the light was automated. The Keweenaw County Historical Society is now the 22nd "Keeper of the Light." There is a Maritime Museum containing details of some of the many Keweenaw shipwrecks located in the old fog signal and watch building.

Whitefish Point Lighthouse
Whitefish Point, Michigan

First lit in 1849, the Whitefish Point Light shares honors with the lighthouse at Copper Harbor for being the first lights on Lake Superior. It stands guard over the entrance to Whitefish Bay, sometimes the only shelter to be found for a ship trying to escape the fury of the lake, and is the oldest active light on Lake Superior.

Whitefish Point is known as the Graveyard of Ships as more vessels have been lost here than in any other part of the lake. Hundreds of vessels, including the famed Edmund Fitzgerald, lie on the bottom of the bay and the approaches.

Appropriately, the dwelling that formerly housed the Keeper and Assistant Keeper has been fully restored with period furnishings and artifacts and is open to the public. As you walk through the dwelling you can get a glimpse of what life was like for the Keepers and their families as they kept the light burning and the fog signal going throughout those dark and stormy nights.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
Eagle Harbor, Michigan

The red brick Eagle Harbor Light Station sits on the rocky entrance to the harbor and is a working lighthouse as it guides mariners across the northern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The original lighthouse, built in 1851, was replaced in 1871. The octagonal brick light tower is ten feet in diameter, with walls 12 inches thick and it supports a 10-sided cast iron lantern. The Lighthouse was manned by a head keeper and two assistant keepers.

The light has undergone several changes during the past years. In 1929 a radio beacon was added and in 1930 the light was electrified. In 1968 the original 4th order Fresnel Lens was replaced by a red and white aviation type beacon and in 1980 the light was automated. The Keweenaw County Historical Society is now the 22nd "Keeper of the Light." There is a Maritime Museum containing details of some of the many Keweenaw shipwrecks located in the old fog signal and watch building.

Detroit River Lighthouse
Detroit, Michigan

Completed in 1885 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at a cost of $78,000, the Detroit River Light replaced a Canadian lightship that had served since 1875. It is located near the end Bar Shoal which projects from the Canadian shore, in Lake Erie just south of the entrance into the Detroit River. This is the point where up bound vessels make the turn into the Detroit River.

The light station pier has the appearance of a vessel, with the pointed end directed toward the mouth of the river to break ice flows coming down river.

The construction of the station was tested in December 1997 when the 635-foot freighter Buffalo struck the station dead on while sailing downbound for Lake Eire. Damage to the station was minimal involving only the structure's rock and stone foundation.

The station contains a fog signal, and is similar to Harbor Beach Lighthouse which also was built in 1885. The station is an active aid to navigation and is only visible from a boat.

Copper Harbor Lighthouse
Copper Harbor, Michigan

The Copper Harbor Lighthouse is located within Fort Wilkins Historic State Park at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The lighthouse complex includes the 1848 keeper's dwelling, the 1866 lighthouse and privy, a 1933 steel tower that houses the modern lighting apparatus, and an outdoor interpretive trail.

With the discovery of copper in the Keweenaw, immigrant Cornish and Finnish miners began flocking to the area to seek their fortunes. While Copper Harbor was both expansive and well protected, vessels entering the harbor were forced to find their way through a relatively narrow rocky opening. On March 3, 1847 Congress appropriated $5,000 for the construction of a light at the harbor entrance.

The 1866 lighthouse features exhibits that recreate the lives of keepers and their families during the early 20th century. Visitors can see period rooms including a kitchen, a parlor, an office, and a service (oil) room on the first floor and a bedroom and a trunk room on the second floor. The lantern room is not open to the public.

Seul Choix Lighthouse
Gulliver, Michigan

Seul Choix (pronounced Sis-shwa) Point Light marks a small harbor on Lake Michigan located on the south shore of the Upper Peninsula. Some sixty miles west of the Straits, the name means "only choice".

Native Americans and French fur traders traveled in canoes across the rough waters of Lake Michigan. It was named by the French who found that it was the only harbor of refuge in this part of Lake Michigan. If boats were headed for the Straits of Mackinac, the only choice for safety was Seul Choix.

The light was placed into service in 1892, but the tower had to be rebuilt and the station was not entirely completed until September, 1895.

The two-story house-easily large enough to accommodate two families-is finished in red brick, including several rooms that have been added on to the original structure. Attached to the house by a small, enclosed corridor of red brick is the lighthouse tower. The interior of the living quarters has been completely restored and decorated as they would have appeared in the 1900's-1930's.

Point Iroquois Lighthouse
Bay Mills, Michigan

The Point Iroquios Lighthouse is located at the Mouth of the St. Mary's River, above the Soo Locks, in Michigan. It was established in 1855 due to anticipated shipping traffic increasing with the locks about to open.
It marks sandy shores on the American side and rocky reefs on the Canadian side.

Iroquois Point received its name in 1662 after the local Ojibwa encountered a band of intruding Iroquois encamped on the Point. The following morning both groups were in a full-pitched battle, and by the end of the day, the entire band of Iroquois had been wiped-out and the Point named..

The lighthouse is now property of the United States Forest Service and open to the public. The museum and gift shop are open from May 15th through October 15. From the top of the tower you have a commanding view of the sandy shoreline as it stretches out of sight, and of Canada, across the water to the north.

Port Sanilac Lighthouse
Port Sanilac, Michigan

The Port Sanilac lighthouse has stood watch over the waters of Lake Huron since 1886; its powerful beam guiding sailors to port and Great Lakes freighters on their journeys. Originally burning kerosene, it was electrified in 1924. Bootleggers in the Roaring Twenties landed cargo at the base of the 80-foot tower.

The light has an octagonal cast iron lantern with a Fourth Order Fresnel lens manufactured in Paris by Barbier & Fenestre.

Now privately owned, the light tower still sends its beam sixteen miles out into Lake Huron every night. and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Point Aux Barques Lighthouse
Port Hope, Michigan

The first light tower was built on this location in 1847, at a cost of $5,000. It was first lighted for the 1848 shipping season. However, as was often the case, the first tower was poorly constructed and needed to be replaced after only 10 years. The present 1857 light is a conical white brick tower, 89-feet tall, with a focal plane of 93-feet above Lake Huron. A rotating Third Order Fresnel lens provided a flash every two minutes visible as far 16 miles out on the lake. The tower is attached to a 2-story brick keeper’s dwelling by a matching brick passageway.

An assistant keeper's house was added in 1908, and the light was upgraded to an incandescent vapor lamp in 1914. The change increased the lights range to 18 miles over the lake, and further protection was added in 1918 with the addition of a lighted bell buoy.

The 1857 tower and attached keepers dwelling remain intact, along with the 1908 assistant keeper’s dwelling and a round iron oil house. The keeper’s dwelling is home to two related museums. One room contains memorabilia of the lighthouse, its history and keepers.Another room interprets the many ship wrecks that lie under the local waters.

Gull Rock Lighthouse
Keweenaw Point, Michigan

The Gull Rock Lighthouse, located west of Manitou Island off the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, went into operation on November , 1867. The last known resident keeper left in 1897, after which it was maintained by the keepers from Manitou Island. Abandoned and in poor condition due to its exposed location, it is only accessible by boat.

The half-acre island is made up of conglomerate rock, with little or no topsoil, and it is a favored nesting ground for gulls.

Big Bay Lighthouse
Big Bay, Michigan

The Big Bay Point Lighthouse stands on a rocky point halfway between Marquette and the Keweenaw Portage Entry. The point occupies a position midway between Granite Island and Huron Islands. These two lights were invisible from each other and the intervening stretch was unlighted.

The duplex dwelling housed the Head Keeper and his family on one side, and the Assistant Keeper and family on the other. As the country moved towards the eight-hour workday, a third assistant was added to the station.

In 1941, under the authority of the US Coast Guard, the last keeper was reassigned and the light at Big Bay was automated. The Army used the lighthouse for Artillery practice! The Army had men stay here & planes would fly out on the lake while men on shore would try to hit targets behind the plane.

Big Bay is a working navigational add to ships, however, it is now also a bed & breakfast.

White River Lighthouse
Whitehall, Michigan

In 1838, Charles Mears built the first sawmill on the shores of White Lake, and in 1849, the Reverend William Ferry and his son Thomas purchased land around Stoney Creek where they built a water-powered sawmill.

While some of the lumber from these mills was used for construction in the area, the vast majority ended up being shipped to the growing cities of Chicago and Milwaukee on the Lake's southern shores. As a result, increasing numbers of vessels began tying-up at White River to be loaded.

The White River lighthouse was decommissioned in 1960 Fruitland Township purchased the structure in 1966, with plans of converting it into a maritime museum. The museum was opened for the first time in the summer of 1970.

Granite Island Lighthouse
Marquette, Michigan

When first explored by white people in the 1830's, the granite outcropping that would appropriately become known as Granite Island, was still a forbidding place. Even in such a small surface area, the island rose to a height of 60 feet above the lake, and its convoluted and craggy shoreline made landing virtually impossible.

With the discovery of iron ore in the area around 1840, Marquette was fast becoming one of the busiest ports in the Upper Peninsula, and Granite's Island's location approximately twelve-and-a-half miles to the northeast, represented a major threat to vessels making passage to and from the harbor.

In the latest chapter in the Granite Island story, in 1999, the Coast Guard decided that a number of the lighthouses in inventory were considered to be "in excess," Granite Island was among these excess lights, and Scott Holman of Freeland, Michigan submitted the highest bid and is now the station's newest "keeper." He has plans to restore the station.

Mission Point Lighthouse
Mission Penninsula, Michigan

An 18 mile long peninsula protrudes in a northerly direction splitting Grand Traverse bay into east and west arms. Dispatched by the Presbyterian Board of Missions, the Reverend Peter Dougherty arrived in the harbor in 1838 to establish the mission for which the peninsula would eventually become known.

Old Mission Point Lighthouse was built in 1870 at the end of Old Mission Point, 17 miles north of Traverse City. When Old Mission Point Lighthouse was built, it was an exact duplicate of the Mama Juda Lighthouse, constructed on the Detroit River in 1866. The lighthouse sits almost on the 45th parallel, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.

The State of Michigan purchased the old lighthouse property after the Second World War, as part of a new park. The dwelling is maintained by Peninsula Township, and is used as a residence by park employees.

Want to see more?

Page 1 New York
Page 3 More Great Lakes
Page 4 East Coast
Page 5 West Coast

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The lighthouses are in a low resolution format for the web. If you would like a high quality printout of any of the lighthouses, or if you have a favorite lighthouse you would like me to draw, contact me:

Marilyn Mulgrew
Or click on my self-portrait.