Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse was built in Mackinaw
City, Michigan in 1892 to replace the 1869 McGulpin
Point Lighthouse, which was located two miles farther west. A fog
signal had been put in place 2 years earlier, in a building which was torn
down around 1940 and was recently been reconstructed to house a new Straits
of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum.
When in operation, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse housed
the families of the lighthouse keeper and assistant keeper in separate
apartments. The families of the keepers assisted with tasks such as hauling
oil to the lantern room at the top of the 50' tower. That oil lamp was
replaced by an electric light in 1929.
A radio beacon was added to the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse
in 1937. It was installed in the the same building as the fog horn. In
the 1930s, the original steam whistles were replaced with air horns which
took much less work to maintain.
Each lighthouse in a region is unique, giving navigators
more cues as to which navigational aid they are seeing or hearing. Old
Mackinac Point Lighthouse was constructed from Indiana limestone, giving
it an attractive castle like appearance. The light was a revolving, fourth
order Fresnel lens which gave a red flash every ten seconds. The fog whistles
also had their own pattern, with a 5 second blast, 17 seconds of silence,
another 5 second blast, and 33 seconds of silence, repeated once a minute.
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse remained in operation until
1957, when the lights on the nearby Mackinac Bridge made the navigational
aid no longer necessary. Today the lighthouse is part Mackinac State Historic
Parks and is open for tours in from early May through early October. There
is an admission fee.
Straits of Mackinac lighthouses
Touring Old Mackinac
McGulpin Point Lighthouse
Straits of Mackinac Lighthouse Tour by Air