Saturday, June 11, 2011

Old Mackinac Point Light


I've still got a bunch of tourista shots from last year that I never published - here is one of them. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is part of Michilimackinac State Park, located right next to the bridge. According to Wiki, as far back as 1838 it was recommended that a lighthouse be put in the area to help guide ships through the straits. Nothing was done until 1854, when they put a lighthouse three miles to the west, and that didn't work as intended. Note the years that went by until the original idea was revisited...

In 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 stovewood in order to keep steam up for the foghorn.

The lighthouse "grew out of the fog station." In March 1891, Congress finally authorized the funding for a light station and the board acted quickly. Bidding was difficult, but in 1892, "on a foundation of ashlar limestone, the tower and attached keeper’s dwelling were both constructed of Cream City brick, trimmed with Indiana Limestone. The double-walled cylindrical tower was laid with an outside diameter of 13 feet 4 inches (4.06 m), and as each course was added, rose to a height of 45 feet (14 m), surmounted by a circular iron gallery and an 8-foot-8-inch (2.64 m) diameter watch room, which was in turn capped by a prefabricated octagonal iron lantern." The lens is a fourth order Fresnel Lens.

Deactivated with the completion of the bridge in 1957, three years later it became part of the park grounds. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.