Photographer: Keith W. Churill

Photo courtesy of: U.S. Coast Guard

Martin Reef

Les Cheneaux Islands, MI


Built :  1927

Type : Square, brick

Status : Active

Location : Northern Lake Huron. Approximately (8) miles Southeast of Cedarville, MI 

Height : 70 feet

Access : Boat

The Martin Reef: Originally marked with the lightship "MARTIN", this reef located between the Straits of Mackinac and the St. Mary's River is only (10) feet from the surface. As many ships travel this area heading to and from Lake Michigan, the lightship "MARTIN" was stationed here, marking the dangerous area, until construction of the Martin Reef lighthouse was completed.

Click here for a short video clip with fog signal

History of the Light : A base camp was set-up on Government Island in the same area used by the builders of the Spectacle Reef lighthouse which was completed in 1874.

The camp consisted of numerous small buildings along with cook and bunk houses. This base camp was located approximately 4 miles West of Martin Reef at Scammon's Harbor in an area known as Les Cheneaux Islands on the Southeastern side of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The foundation crib and stone blocks were constructed and prepared at this location and then taken by steamers to the construction site.

Spectacle Reef Light Martin Reef

The lighthouse foundation crib was constructed of 12 x 12 redwood timbers using lap joints throughout. When completed it measured approximately 18 feet tall by 60 square with 36 square interior pockets. The inner corners are reinforced with steel angle and steel sheeting covers it's outer surface.

During the construction of the crib, the lighthouse location on Martin Reef was cleared of boulders and marked with a buoys and a warning light. The crib was then floated out (7) miles to this location and sunk using crushed limestone from a self-unloading freighter. Once submerged, the crib was then filled with concrete. The remaining part of the pier was constructed of concrete with an external "wave flare" and internal storage areas with a total height of approximately 25 feet from it's footing on the reef.

The foundation supports a white, square, steel tower, covered with steel sheeting. The square tower measures 25 feet by 38 feet tall. The tower housed the keepers quarters in it's upper floors. The power equipment for the lights, fog horn and radio communications was housed in the lower (deck) level. Atop the tower is a 16 foot square by 10 feet tall watch room. An octagonal lantern room sits above the watch room with a red top and housing a third order Fresnel lens. The lens was manufactured by Sautter and Company of Paris, France. Currently it houses an electric light with a fourth order Fresnel lens producing a focal plane at 65 feet above mean lake level. The lighthouse also houses a fog signal that sounds every 1 minute 15 seconds.

All of the construction was completed in the summer of 1927 with the lighthouse going into commission at that time. The base camp on Government Island, along with all of the equipment, was then moved to the mouth of the Cheboygan River. This was to be used for construction of the Poe Reef and Fourteen Foot Shoal lighthouses.


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