Michigan Island Lighthouse

The Michigan Island Lighthouse is operated by the National Park Service and is located on Michigan Island on western Lake Superior in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.


There are two historical lighthouses that have served as the Michigan Island light. The oldest was constructed in 1857, but not activated until 1869. It served until 1929 when it was replaced by a taller, 118-foot (36 m) skeletal tower, which is still operational.

The 3½-order Fresnel lens, coupled with a 24,000 candela electric light and the 170-foot (52 m) focal plane (aided by its placement on a cliff) aided by the tower's location atop the cliff, made the light range of visibility to a "remarkable 22 miles." This was a relative rarity, being one of only a dozen used around the country, most of which were on the Great Lakes, These lights were typically reserved for places that were an especially serious hazard to navigation. See, for example, Sturgeon Point Light. Other Great Lakes lights that had 3½-order Fresnel lenses were at (in alphabetical order): DeTour Reef, Eagle Bluff, Grays Reef, Huron Island, St. Helena Island, and Toledo Harbor.

In 1972, the original Fresnel lens was replaced with a DCB-224 aero beacon manufactured by the Carlisle & Finch Company. In turn, that was replaced by the 300 mm Tideland Signal acrylic optic. The restored Fresnel lens is on display at the visitor center of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Bayfield.

The structure shares its design with towers at Rawley Point Light on Lake Michigan and Whitefish Point Light at Lake Superior's eastern end. However, the Michigan Island tower has a small brick building is located at the base of the center tube, apparently a workroom for the early lighthouse keepers.


Currently owned by the National Park Service and part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, as reference number 77000145. Listed in the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, WI-317 (A-C).

Getting there

Most of the Apostle Islands light stations may be reached on the Apostle Islands Cruise Service water taxi or by private boat during the summer. During the Annual Apostle Island Lighthouse Celebration, a ferry tour service is available for all the lighthouses. During the tourist season, volunteer park rangers are on the many of the islands to greet visitors.

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