South Manitou Island Lighthouse, Glen Arbor

4.2
#10 of 14 in Things to do in Glen Arbor
South Manitou Island Lighthouse is located on South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan, west of Leland, Michigan. It is in Leelanau County in western Northern Michigan.
This is the third lighthouse built on the island. Construction of the first began in 1839 and the 1-1/2-story lighthouse with a lens in the cupola first went on in 1840, under the care of Lighthouse keeper William N. Burton, who had a thriving lumbering business. It had a Lewis lamp, which was upgraded to a fourth order Fresnel lens. Deterioration of the building led to the lighthouse being completely rebuilt in 1858. Over time this light was found to be deficient, and the current lighthouse was built in 1872. With a third order Fresnel lens sitting above the foundation, this light boasted a focal plane of. The site is under the control of the National Park Service, in conjunction with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1958, and is now a museum. It is not operational.
“The lighthouse on South Manitou Island is, or was while it was still in operation, perhaps the most beautiful on the Great Lakes,”
Guide Emily McKinney stated: “You’re not only looking at Lake Michigan out there, you’re looking at the Manitou Passage,” she said. “It’s a big stretch of water between the Straits of Mackinac in Chicago,. If you use you imagination, take yourselves back 150 years ago.” The passage was preferred as safer than being on the open lake—so much so that 1,000 ships passed each day, carrying people and commerce—the passageway nonetheless was treacherous.
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South Manitou Island Lighthouse Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
14 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • Vistied the Lighthouse to gain information to make a model of it. Parks Service Volunteer Docent Mark was very knowledgeable and helpful. It's a short walk from the boat dock to the lighthouse through...  more »
  • My most favorite rustic camping area! I visited this lighthouse both times I've camped here, and it is absolutely gorgeous. A must-climb!  more »
Google
  • Amazing place. After staring at this place from Homestead and Glen Arbor for years, I did finally make it awhile ago. Wish I could live in the lighthouse. Definitely work a visit. One of my favorite lighthouses in the country. Been over 20 years, but I'm seriously considering moving back to this area.
  • I had an amazing experience with my family. We had a volunteer tour guide take us up to the top and she has to be one of the best guides I've ever had. Had lots of information on the history of the lighthouse and stories too! I also took a trip to a cliff overlooking one of the shipwrecks and the cedar forest on the island. Beautiful scenery and amazing weather!

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