|Round Island Lighthouse
in the Straits of Mackinac is one of the most famous and most photographed
lighthouses in the State of Michigan. While only a few people actually
visit the light, Round Island is located just across the shipping lane
from Mackinac Island and hundreds of thousands of tourists pass within
a half mile of the 119 year old lighthouse on ferries to the island from
Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.
Round Island is a tiny (378 acre) uninhabited island where
there has been no commercial activity for over 100 years. The entire island
is part of Hiawatha National Forest and all of Round Island, but the one
acre spit of rock and sand occupied by the lighthouse is designated as
Wilderness. Normal access to the island is only by private boat or (during
some winters) over the ice. The one exception is the second Saturday in
July when the Round
Island Lighthouse Preservation Society hosts an open house and arranges
for charter boat service from Mackinac Island. Photos
from visiting Round Island Lighthouse.
Round Island Lighthouse was built in 1895 with a 57' brick
tower and a wooden frame building providing quarters for a Lighthouse Keeper,
Assistant Keeper, and their families. The lighthouse was first lit on May
15th, 1896 and a fog signal was added later that year. The light was automated
In 1947 the light was deactivated and replaced by the
automated Round Island Passage Light, which was placed in the water on
the far side of the shipping lane. The Coast Guard stopped maintaining
the building a few years later later and it slowly deteriorated until a
storm in 1972 docked down a corner of the building.
In 1974 Round Island Lighthouse was added to the National
Register of Historic Places and work to stabilize the structure began.
It was restored enough for the building to be used in 1979 as the backdrop
for a scene in the movie "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeve and
Further restoration and preservation work in 1995 led
to the Coast Guard granting permission to relight the Round Island Light
and it was relit in 1996. The Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society,
Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, and Boy Scouts of America Troop
323 from Freeland, Michigan have continued to improve the structure in
the intervening years.
Note: the July 9, 2016 Open House
has been cancelled.
The 9th Annual Round Island Lighthouse Open House
is scheduled for July 9, 2016 from 10AM - 4PM. More details will be posted
as the become available. In 2015, tours of the lighthouse were free and
the boat ride from the Coal Dock on Mackinac Island was $15/round trip.