STRAITS OF MACKINAC PASSAGE, LAKE HURON, NEAR MACKINAW CITY, MICHIGAN
Station Established: 1889
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1892
Foundation Materials: STONE
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPERATE
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER FRESNEL
- Long before the settlers came to Great Lakes, the native people burned fires along the shores of the Straits of Mackinac. The Straits are littered with shoals and islands which make navigation hazardous.
- As maritime traffic on Lake Huron increased, the need to light the Straits became apparent. In 1829 the Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse was built to guide ships into the Straits and to warn them of the shoals. McGulpin’s Point Light Station, three miles west of Old Mackinac Point. Fog was a considerable problem on the Straits and it was decided that Old Mackinac Point’s location would be ideal for a light station.
- A fog bell was built at the site in 1890. Construction of the actual lighthouse commenced in 1891 and was completed in 1892.
- The tower which is 40 or 45 feet tall was made from Cream City brick named for the clay found near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The bricks were widely used in the area and gave the nickname “Cream City”. The tower is attached to a “duplex” keepers quarters that more than a little resembles a castle. Perhaps that is the basis for the statement “lighthouses are to Americans what castles are to Europeans.”
- A Fourth Order Fresnel lens was installed and was visible for 16 miles.
- The Mackinac Bridge was completed in 1957 and the lights on the structure at night rendered the lighthouse obsolete. The property was purchased by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission in 1960. Restoration has been completed and the lighthouse is open to the public.
Researched and written by Melissa Buckler, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.
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