With Lake Superior an hour north of Newberry and Lake Michigan an hour south, you are never far from visiting six of the Upper Peninsula’s over 40 beautiful historic lighthouses. Most of the U.P.’s beacons were built in the mid-1800s to guide ships and boats into safe harbors or around dangerous shoals, a job several continue to do.
1944 County Highway 412, Newberry | Grounds Open Year-Round | Visitor Center: End of May to Oct., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | Call 906-658-3600 to confirm hours | Learn more
Crisp Point was one of five Lake Superior U.S. Life-Saving Service Stations along the Lake Superior coast between Munising and Whitefish Point. It is 14 miles west of Whitefish Point and 1.5 hours north of Newberry. Operational since 1876, it inherited its name from one of the life-saving station keepers and an iron-willed boatman, Christopher Crisp.
West Pier, Canal St., Seney | Viewable year-round
These two active white square towers on the west pier are a half-mile northeast of downtown Grand Marais and an hour northwest of Newberry. They were first lit in 1895. The fifth-order Fresnel lens in the inner lighthouse is one of the few lenses still in operation and has a range of 16 miles. The Lightkeeper’s House, N14252 Lake Avenue, Grand Marais, serves as a museum. During the summer months, it is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. and other hours as docents are available. Private tours are available with an appointment. For tour information, email email@example.com
12942 W. Lakeshore Drive, Brimley | mid-June to mid-Sept., Tues.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; mid-Sept.-mid-Oct., weekends only, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. | Call 906-437-5272 to confirm hours | Learn more
An hour north of Newberry, the first lighthouse and light-keeper residence were built on this site in 1855 and its light was first exhibited in 1857. The current brick buildings were constructed in 1870. Its fourth-order Fresnel lens guided ships through one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world for 107 years. The lighthouse was named for the Iroquois warriors massacred there by the Ojibway in 1662.
A boardwalk provides a close-up view of the Lake Superior shore and the rock-strewn beach is a treasure trove of colorful stones. Point Iroquois Lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
18335 N. Whitefish Point Road, Paradise | May 1-Oct. 31, Daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | Learn more
Drive an hour north of Newberry to see the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior. Established by Congress in 1849, this life-saving beacon has illuminated these dangerous waters for mariners continuously. Of the 550 known major shipwrecks lying on the bottom of this freshwater sea, 200 are near Whitefish Point, including the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald that sank 15 miles northwest from this site in 1975. The current tower was constructed in 1861 during Abraham Lincoln’s administration. This site is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Harbor, Manistique | Viewable year-round | Learn more
An hour south of Newberry, this picturesque lighthouse was first lit in 1916. It still guides boats into the Manistique harbor and marina. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
Park at Lakeview Park and take the boardwalk to the pier; it’s a great place to take photos from sunrise to sunset.
3183 County Highway 431, Gulliver | Museum hours: Memorial Day-mid-Oct., Daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | Call 906-283-3860 May-Sept.; 906-283-3317 Oct-April to confirm hours | Learn more
The Seul Choix Point Lighthouse, an hour south of Newberry, is also an active light station. It went into service in 1892, but the tower had to be rebuilt and wasn’t fully operational until 1895. The name, which means “Only Choice,” is pronounced locally, Sis-Shwa, but the French say, Sel-Shwa. Some consider the lighthouse haunted with reports that a former lighthouse keeper is still at work. Strange happenings include moved silverware and other items, the sound of someone climbing the lighthouse steps and the strong smell of cigars.
Few stories will stir your heart as much as those you will learn when you visit our sentinels along our Great Lakes. Having weathered some of the most horrific storms and saved many a mariner’s life, these lighthouses are both a testimony to engineering genius and artistic beauty. Visit them all, beginning with these six near Tahquamenon Country.
The hero image is courtesy of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association