Best Collection of Lighthouses on the Great Lakes
Northeast 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
These WATER front bungalows are available to rent year-round. The Hubbard Lake view at the front of both of these bungalows is just short of spectacular. Hubbard Lake spans three townships that offer a never-ending selection of activities, attractions and conveniences, such as golf, hiking, bicycling, and small-game and bow hunting, color tours, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. The lake is one of today’s prime resort areas as well as an attractive retirement destination. This beautiful resort offers sandy-bottom swimming, prime fishing, snorkeling, water-skiing, canoeing, and has access to a nearby boat launch. All bedrooms are furnished with a double bed. Each unit also has a sleeper sofa in living room. Private baths have been updated with modern fixtures and shower enclosures. Both units have fully-equipped eat-in kitchens, including microwaves, cable TV, DVD player, gas grills, sun deck, air conditioner & a fire pit. The Lake Front unit also has a washer & dryer. Groceries and paper products are the responsibility of renters.
The bungalows are located on the west side of Hubbard Lake in a quiet community of summer homes. Each bungalow includes all the necessary amenities of home plus, a spectacular view of the shimmering water. Mt. Maria, visible from this property, has been designated by National Geographic as one of the ten most beautiful views in the country.
Go to http://www.uptothenorth.com for rates on these beautiful cottages.
Rockport State Recreation Area Sinkholes
GPS: 45.202533, -83.384076, take US-23 North, turn right on Rockport Road, the park is at the end of Rockport Rd.
Rockport is Michigan’s 100th State Park and is the first State Park where you are allowed to take a piece of it home with you. There are 13 sinkholes located at Rockport as a result of the Karst topography of the area. One of the sinkholes is over 100 feet deep and filled with water from an underground aquifer. Search for Devonian Era fossils around the sinkholes or in the abandoned 300-acre limestone quarry located on the property. Visitors are allowed to take up to 25 pounds of rock per person from the park per year. While you are here also check out the old deep port harbor, remnants of the former limestone mining operations that sat on the property.
Rugged trails loop throughout the property. Hike, bike, or bring your horse to ride the trails.
YEAR ROUND cottage on GRAND LAKE (across from the largest island) rent by the week or day. Fully equipped kitchen, full bath, 2 full and 2 single beds, living room with gas fireplace, charcoal grill, dock, fire pit and garage (if needed). Boat launch, harbors, lighthouses, gas station and store nearby. Year ’round outdoor recreation-10,000 acres of state land nearby.
Soaps and Such is a northeast Michigan destination shop. Bath and beauty products as well as unique Michigan illustrated candles and necklaces are part of the product line crafted by the local artisan and owner in a workshop off the shop. Alpena, Hubbard Lake, and other designs are emerging at the shop too. You are sure to find unique local artisan designed and crafted treasures at this shop. As well, the focus is “natural” with the bath and beauty products which are diverse from goats milk soap to natural repellent, to sulfate free shampoo. The shop itself has an old world charm and a tranquil setting as fountains flow and birds chirp offering a respite of solitude to those that browse the shop. Interactive offerings with the artisan without appointment every day include the exclusive interactive fragrance bar where customers can make their own perfume and body spray from over 35 essential oils or a nail polish and more. This little shop is nestled on Second Avenue in downtown Alpena and offers party rentals, customized gift baskets, demonstrations upon requests of groups, and shipping of those treasures or gifts for seamless gift giving or delivery to your home. It is truly a northern Michigan destination shop that you will be glad you visited.
Starlite Beach is full of family fun. Sandy swimming beach, playground, splash park (coming summer 2018), picnic pavilion, indoor restrooms, and outdoor shower. Close to restaurants and lodging. Adjacent to Lee’s Mini-Golf, the oldest continuously run miniature golf course in Michigan.
Stevens Twin Sinkholes
GPS: 45.18231, -83.71981, near the corner of Leer Rd and Maple Lane Rd, approx. 20 minutes from Alpena.
Stevens Twin Sinks Preserve is a 31-acre parcel purchased in 1993 with gifts from William and Archie Stevens and other members and friends of the Michigan Karst Conservancy. In it are two sinkholes separated by a fragile saddle ridge, each sink is about 200 feet in diameter and 85 feet deep. Located across from the Bruski Sink on Leer Road near the intersection of Maple Lane Road, the Stevens Twin Sinks are a geological treat. Earth cracks are viewable at Stevens Preserve and indicate that the sink hole is slowly continuing to collapse and the surface is sliding toward the sink hole. This Preserve has two self-guided trails. One trail generally follows the perimeter of the sinkholes with a spur to the earth cracks. Another trail is found off the spur trail and takes visitors through the woods and meadows of the preserve and is marked with yellow and red flagging.
More information is available at the Alpena Visitor Welcome Center at 420 N. Second Ave, Alpena, MI 49707.
Taste and purchase locally-made wine and soda at Stoney Acres Winery in Alpena. Stoney Acres makes several different kinds of grape and fruit wines including Silver City White (Riesling), Silver City Red (Merlot), and more than a half-dozen fruit wines including several berry varieties and cherry, pear and apple. New at Stoney Acres is a line of Shipwreck Soda! Delicious root beer, cream soda, raspberry and orange soda are named for some of the famous shipwrecks in Thunder Bay. The winery also offers a number of handmade delights, including wine truffles, fudge, candy bars, cheese popcorn, old fashioned caramel corn and triple-chocolate drizzled caramel corn. Stoney Acres carries a full line of beer and wine-making supplies and is open Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday noon until 5:00 p.m. Closed Mondays. For more information, call (989) 356-1041.
Subway has been happily serving the Alpena community for nearly 30 years, providing fresh food and awesome service to our guests. Join us for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We have some great healthy and indulgent choices to satisfy any craving! And don’t forget about catering. We can help feed your guests no matter the size of the party!
Arthur E. Sytek Park is located on Thunder Bay River and is the trailhead for the Alpena Bi-Path trail. The park offers a wildflower garden, picnic area, and barrier-free covered fishing deck, kayak/canoe launch site.
- Bird watching
- Nature observation
- Picnic area