History

With maritime traffic in the Straits of Mackinac steadily increasing, Congress authorized the construction of a light station at Old Mackinac Point in 1889. The new station was to replace an existing light at McGulpin Point, two miles to the west, which was not visible to vessels sailing on Lake Huron. A fog signal went into operation at Old Mackinac Point in 1890, and the lighthouse itself was completed and lit for the first time in 1892. A storage barn and oil house completed the station. Old Mackinac Point’s flashing red light, shining atop a stately stone tower and castle-like keepers’ quarters, was visible for 16 miles, guiding sailors through the sometimes treacherous waters of the Straits of Mackinac. For 65 years the keepers of Old Mackinac Point stood watch every night to monitor the station’s equipment. The Old Mackinac Point light station was decommissioned in 1957, replaced by navigational aids mounted on the newly-constructed Mackinac Bridge.

The Mackinac Island State Park Commission acquired the light station in 1960, and opened it to the public as the center of the Michilimackinac Maritime Park in 1972. After closing in the 1990s, the light station reopened to the public in 2004. Today, the site is being restored to its appearance around 1910, and historic interpreters are on hand to greet visitors and lead them on tours up the tower.

To learn more about the history of Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, visit the history page.