Virtual Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Here you can find the timeline history of Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, a virtual tower tour, videos from the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum, educational resources, and more!

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse’s History: A Timeline

The lighthouse in 1918.

For sixty-five years, four generations of lighthouse keepers and their families lived at Old Mackinac Point Light Station.  Their devotion to duty helped ensure the safety of vessels in the Straits of Mackinac.  The lighthouse complex included a tower and attached duplex, fog signal building and storage barn.

1889 United States Congress Establishes a light station at Old Mackinac Point.

1890 Title to property secured and construction of Fog Signal begins.  Fog Signal operates for the first time on November 5.

1891 Congress appropriates funds for lighthouse.  George Marshall arrives as first keeper.

1892 Construction begins in May and is completed in October.  Lighted for the first time on October 25.

1907 New Fog Signal building completed.

1913 Lens lamp converted from kerosene to incandescent oil vapor.

1919 George Marshall retires.  His son James appointed keeper.

1928 Electricity and municipal water (and bathrooms) added to dwelling. Continue reading…

Shipwrecks of the Straits and Zen and the Sandusky

Shipwrecks of the Straits is an exciting 15-minute movie that goes in depth on four of the wrecks in the Straits of Mackinac.


Zen and the Sandusky is by Dr. Charles Feltner, who, along with his wife Jeri, were instrumental in the creation of the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum.

Virtual Exhibits

Visit multiple shipwrecks (Cedarville, Eber Ward, Sandusky, Straits of Mackinac Underwater Preserve) on the bottom of the Great Lakes and explore the science behind how lighthouses work.
Science and Technology of Lighthouse Exhibit:

Shipwreck Video #1 – Cedarville:


Shipwreck Video #2 – Eber Ward:

Shipwreck Video #3 – Sandusky:

Shipwreck Video #4 – Straits of Mackinac Underwater Preserve:

Demonstrations

Learn about lighthouse keepers and their duties, the Fresnel lens, and how the light operated as you take a tour up the 51 steps of the lighthouse tower.


Learn about the Fog Signal Whistle at Old Mackinac Point:

Educational Resources

Mackinac State Historic Parks maintains a robust collection of educational resources, such as lesson plans, about all of its sites, including Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. Learn more here.

Design your own Daymark! The simplest method of signaling from light stations was also the most obvious: the physical appearance of the lighthouse. Called the daymark, the painting and design of the light tower and keepers’ quarters allowed sailors to easily identify individual stations during the day, when the light and fog signal were not operating. Some lighthouses, such as White Shoal in the Straits of Mackinac, featured painted stripes as their daymark. Others used colored roofs, painted lantern rooms, and painted brick or woodwork to differentiate them from other light stations, even when the buildings were constructed to a standard
plan. Old Mackinac Point’s daymark consisted of a yellow brick building and tower with a red roof and black lantern room.

How would you design your own daymark? Download and print the lighthouses below, and share them with us on our Facebook page!

Click the picture to open a downloadable PDF.

Using the original blueprints for the lighthouse and barn, show how you would have had them look. Click for a PDF.

Click the picture to open a downloadable PDF.

Click the picture to open a downloadable PDF.

More Viewing

More videos on Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse can be found on our YouTube page, including construction progress for the second floor exhibit and the Fog Signal Whistle!

Support for exhibits and demonstrations at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse comes from Mackinac Associates – friends preserving and sharing Mackinac’s heritage. Please consider checking them out!

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