Sanctuary of the great lakes

Best Collection of Lighthouses on the Great Lakes

winter PI lighthouse Sandy BlumenthalNortheast Michigan is home to seven spectacular lighthouses that helped guide ships to safe harbor. Most lighthouses are open mid-May through mid-October. This unique collection of lighthouses features a haunted lighthouse, a lighthouse station where you can spend the night, the Great Lake’s oldest accessible lighthouse and the tallest accessible lighthouse. View one or all of them at your own pace or enjoy a self-guided driving tour of key northern Lake Huron lighthouse coastline destinations. Information is available at the Community Development Building at 235 W. Chisholm St. in Alpena. The tour follows the journey of the Durston during the Great Storm of 1913. For more information, call (989) 354-4181.

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The Alpena Light

The Alpena Light

“The Alpena Light”, aka Alpena’s “Little Red” Beacon

While the Alpena Light may not be a typical lighthouse, it does meet the criteria to be called one. Located at the mouth of the Thunder Bay River, the 80-foot skeletal tower is viewable from Alpena’s marina and breakwall. Called “Sputnik” (resembles the Russian space satellite) and “Little Red” by locals, it is said this often dismissed light is “Long on duty, short on beauty.”

Little Red is the only lighthouse within the City of Alpena, and believed to be the only lighthouse of this type in the U.S. The station was built of wood in 1877, rebuilt of wood in 1888 and finally constructed of steel in 1914. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. An automated active aid to navigation, the Alpena Light originally housed a Fourth Order Fresnel lens.

new presque isle lighthouse

New Presque Isle Lighthouse

New Presque Isle Lighthouse

4500 E. Grand Lake Rd., Presque Isle, (989) 595-9917
The Presque Isle Light Station includes three historic buildings. The light tower, which connects to a keeper’s dwelling, was built in 1870 and is the tallest lighthouse tower accessible by the public on the Great Lakes. An unattached keeper’s residence, constructed in 1905, has been painstakingly restored and now serves as a museum. The buildings are situated on a 99-acre township park featuring a playground, picnic area, pavilion and nature trails. A gift shop is located in the original keeper’s quarters. Visitors, for a nominal fee, may also climb the 130 steps to the top of the tower for a breathtaking view. The buildings and grounds are open mid-May through mid-October, from 10a.m. until 7 p.m., daily. The 1905 House is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 11am to 5pm, Tuesday through Saturday; 1pm to 5pm Sunday; closed Mondays.

"The Haunted Light" Old Presque Isle Lighthouse; photo courtesy Angela Soltysiak.

“The Haunted Light” Old Presque Isle Lighthouse; photo courtesy Angela Soltysiak.

Old Presque Isle Lighthouse

5295 E. Grand Lake Rd., Presque Isle, (989) 595-6979
The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse is one of the oldest surviving accessible lighthouses on the Great Lakes. Built in 1840 by Jeremiah Moors of Detroit, the harbor light operated until 1871 when the keeper transferred to a new, taller, coastal lighthouse a mile to the north (the New Presque Isle Lighthouse). Visitors can climb the hand-hewn stone steps of the 30 feet tall tower for a panoramic view of the Lake Huron shoreline and Presque Isle Harbor. The keeper’s dwelling serves as a hands-on museum. Here, visitors can blow foghorns and examine other interesting artifacts. They can also ring the bell from the Lansing City Hall clock tower and pose for the perfect photo opportunity with head and hands in an old set of stocks. The buildings and park grounds are open to the public daily, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., mid-May through mid-October. A nominal fee is charged for tower climbs.

40 Mile Point Lighthouse - by Tara Braun

40 Mile Point Lighthouse – by Tara Braun

40-Mile Point Lighthouse

County Park Road, Rogers City
Unlike many Great Lakes lighthouses, Forty Mile Point Light does not mark a significant port, but was built so ships would never be out of viewing range of a lighthouse. The light is 40 miles sailing distance from Mackinaw Point, or just north of Rogers City. The lighthouse was built in 1896 to assist ships through the dangerous shoreline where open water, hidden shoals and false bays had claimed a number of vessels. Follow “Shipwreck Trail” to see what’s left of the Joseph S. Fay, one of 27 wooden ships that sank during a fierce storm in 1905. You can see about 150′ of her side wall resting on the beach near the lighthouse. Other features include the steamer Calcite pilot house, a picnic area, swimming beach and hiking trails.

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

Point Road, Harrisville
Until the early 20th Century, northern Michigan was almost completely dependent on waterborne commerce for all of its needs. Thousands 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 137 years. It is still an operational lighthouse.
In 1876 the U.S. Life Saving Service established a Life Saving Station just south of Sturgeon Point Lighthouse. This station provided around-the-clock rescue capability for vessels in distress. With the formation of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915, Sturgeon Point became a Coast Guard station. The lighthouse was electrified and automated in 1939 and the last personnel left in 1941. The Coast Guard buildings were subsequently destroyed, however, the lighthouse itself survived but was severely vandalized. 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. Almost all of the work was done by volunteers. The lighthouse and keeper’s house are of masonry construction on a limestone block foundation. The tower is 70 feet, 9 inches tall and is 16 feet in diameter at its base. The light is a 3.5 order Fresnel lens made in Paris, France. The light apparatus is still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The keeper’s house is now a maritime museum which is open to the public seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend. The lighthouse tower is open to the public. The grounds are open all year.

Open Memorial Day through September
12 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Monday – Thursday
11 a.m – 4 p.m. – Saturday & Sunday
Lighthouse Tower Open 12 p.m – 3 p.m. Friday, Saturday & Sunday
More information

Thunder Bay Lighthouse

Thunder Bay Lighthouse

Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse

One of the oldest light stations on Lake Huron is located on Thunder Bay Island, situated in the center of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Thunder Bay is the outermost island in a group of islands connected to the north point of Thunder Bay by a shallow bank of numerous rocks, most of which are submerged. The light tower was first constructed in 1832 and was built to warn mariners of the dangerous reefs extending from the island. Squatters were attracted to the federally-owned island, and by 1845 a large fishing community thrived there. One hundred and sixty people lived on the island with 31 fishing boats harvesting twelve thousand barrels of fish each year. Faced with government action to remove them from the island, the trespassers picked up their belongings and relocated to nearby Sugar Island, where they stayed for years. Access to the island is limited to the U S Coast Guard, U S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and members of the Thunder Bay Island Preservation Society. Contact the preservation society at (989) 356-6743. The station was placed on the National Historic Register in 1984. The lighthouse is not open to the public but can be viewed via boat from the water.

Middle Island Light Station

Middle Island Light Station

Middle Island Lighthouse

Middle Island Light Station is located in Lake Huron, halfway between Thunder Bay Island and Presque Isle. There are 7 buildings on the island, including a light tower, Keepers Quarters, an Oil House, Tool Garage, a Fog Horn building and two brick privies. The light is 78 feet above low water and can be seen for 17 miles. Visitors can take a day tour of the island, or even spend a private night on the island in a rustic lodge.


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Photo of 19th Hole (Twin Acres)

19th Hole (Twin Acres)

1081 U.S. 23 North Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 356-3712 Website:
Photo of 40 Mile Point Lighthouse

40 Mile Point Lighthouse

Alpena Michigan 49707 Website:
Photo of 40 Winks Motel

40 Winks Motel

1021 S. State Ave Alpena Michigan 49707 Phone: (989) 354-5622 Website:

5th Avenue Antiques & Appraisals

303 South 5th Ave. Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 356-2356
Photo of AJ’S Garden & Produce

AJ’S Garden & Produce

1150 Salina Rd. Lachine Michigan 49753 Alt Phone: (989) 379-3061 Website:
Photo of Al’s Pools & Spas

Al’s Pools & Spas

220 Sable St. Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 354-3164
Photo of Allegra- Marketing, Print, Mail

Allegra- Marketing, Print, Mail

829 West Chisholm St., Alpena Michigan 49707 Phone: (866) 878-2096 Alt Phone: (989) 356-0834 Website:
Photo of Alpena Adventures

Alpena Adventures

Home 3001 Werth Road Alpena MI 49707 Phone: (989) 464-7241 Website: Alpena Adventures
Photo of Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce

Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce

235 West Chisholm St. Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 354-4181 FAX: (989) 356-3999 Website:
Photo of Alpena Beach Cabana on Lake Huron

Alpena Beach Cabana on Lake Huron

Home South State Avenue Alpena, Michigan 49707 Phone: (810) 542-0331
Photo of Alpena Best Western

Alpena Best Western

1285 M-32 West Alpena Michigan 49707 Phone: 1-800-WESTERN Alt Phone: (989) 356-9087 FAX: (989) 354-0543 Website:
Photo of Alpena Bi-Path Trail

Alpena Bi-Path Trail

Thunder Bay River and Lake Huron Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: 989-340-2288
Photo of Alpena Civic Theatre

Alpena Civic Theatre

401 River Street Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: 989-354-3624 Website:
Photo of Alpena County Fairgrounds

Alpena County Fairgrounds

625 S. 11th Ave Alpena Michigan 49707 Phone: (989) 356-1847 Alt Phone: (989) 354-6016 Website:
Photo of Alpena County George N. Fletcher Library

Alpena County George N. Fletcher Library

211 North First Ave Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 356-6188 Website:
Photo of Alpena County Plaza Pool

Alpena County Plaza Pool

3303 S. Third Ave Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 354-8287 Website:
Photo of Alpena County Regional Airport

Alpena County Regional Airport

1617 Airport Rd. Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 354-2907 Website:
Photo of Alpena Days Inn

Alpena Days Inn

1496 M-32 W Alpena Michigan 49707 Phone: (800) 582-9050 Alt Phone: (989) 356-6118 Website:
Photo of Alpena Embroidery & Trophies

Alpena Embroidery & Trophies

104 N. Second Ave. Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 354-3053
Photo of Alpena Events Complex (APlex)

Alpena Events Complex (APlex)

701 Woodward Avenue Alpena Michigan 49707 Alt Phone: (989) 354-6164 Website:
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Alpena Convention & Visitors Bureau
420 N. 2nd Ave. • Alpena, MI 49707
(989) 340-2288
© 2014 Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, All Rights Reserved. Produced by Gaslight Media
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