Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw City

4.6
#1 of 6 in Museums in Mackinaw City
Mackinaw Point marks the junction of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Founded in 1889, the Old Mackinac Point Light Station was in operation from 1890 until 1957.
PreparationsEven before the advent of European explorers, the Straits of Mackinac were a significant hazard to water borne travelers. Consequently, before lighthouses, the Ojibwa lit the shore with fires.
In the early 19th century, with large vessel traffic increasing from Lake Huron into the Straits, the first step in guarding the Straits was taken in 1829, through the construction of Bois Blanc Lighthouse to both guide mariners in making the westerly turn into the Straits, and to warn them of the shoals and shallows surrounding the island.
Three years later in 1832, Congress acted on Stephen Pleasonton’s recommendation that a lightship be placed on Waugoshance Shoal as the first attempt to mark the western entrance to the Straits. In 1838, Lieutenant James T. Homans reported that the lightship was wholly inadequate. He recommended a better solution for Waugoshance and also that a light be built on the point to the west of Mackinaw Harbor. Nothing came of Homans' recommendations. In 1854, the new Lighthouse Administration decided (against the recommendation of local residents) to put a light at McGulpin Point, approximately 3mi to the west of Old Point Mackinaw.
ConstructionIn 1889, the United States Lighthouse Board realized that Mackinaw Point was a better location. Their first inclination was to put a fog signal there, but when asking Congress for funding, they requested funding for both a fog signal and a first class lighthouse. Congress chose to accept their recommendation, but only voted the funding for a steam-powered fog-signal. The fog signal was built in 1890. The signal proved to be exceptionally necessary for navigation in the often fog-choked Straits of Mackinac; during one exceptionally humid fortnight, the Old Mackinac Point signal personnel reported burning 52 cords of stove wood in order to keep steam up for the foghorn.
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Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
590 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • We love to visit the lighthouse when going to the bridge. The view is incredible, and the park is well maintained. Bring bug spray!  more »
  • Everyone should see what these are and learn how they affected travel in the past. Perhaps, the buildings are not the whole answer here as they are just buildings that have have lasted over time. But ...  more »
Google
  • Cool place with lots of history. I took my family in late fall so it was a slower time to visit. No crowds and you can spend time and not feel rushed. I have been to a lot of lighthouses and this was the first one that would not allow my 5 1/2 year old to not climb to the top because of him being under the height requirements. I am familiar with height requirements for rides and different things of this nature where safety apparatuses are used to restrain individuals. But climbing a ladder was a first.
  • I absolutely love this area. There is something magical about this area. Seeing the bridge, the lighthouse and the straights. It's only a few hours North to drive, and well worth it.

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