Photographer: Keith W. Churill

The mystique of the tower on a cloudy October afternoon in 2001

Right: A view of North Points fall color looking from the parapet in a Northern direction. Lake Huron is to the right with North Bay to the left. Photographer: Keith W. Churill

Presque Isle - New

Presque Isle, MI

Built :  1871

Construction :  Conical, Brick

Status : Active

Location : Presque Isle, MI - Presque Isle County

Lat.  45º 21' 30" N  -  Long.  83º 29' 30" W

Height : 113 feet

Access : Car, parking near the light.

Directions: From the North (Rogers City) on US23, turn east on Hwy. 638 / Highway Road. Follow to a fork in the road and stay to the left continuing on Hwy. 638. Follow approximately 2 miles and turn North onto Grand Lake road.  Follow approximately 1 1/2 miles, the lighthouse will be seen directly in front of you with parking near the light.

 

Presque Isle Harbor: The French translation of Presque Isle is "Almost an Island." In the early years, Indians and Frenchmen portaged across the peninsula near the area of the current Municipal Harbor to avoiding several miles of open water. In the 1830's, commercial vessel traffic in Presque Isle Harbor was greatly increasing. This harbor, with it's natural protection from Lake Huron's fury, was often used as a place of refuge for vessels plying the stormy waters. The harbor was also an important stop for vessels needing cordwood to fuel their boilers and continue their voyage. North Bay is on the West side of Presque Isle. It's central depths are around 20 feet, with a rocky bottom, providing vessels with natural shelter from East and South winds.

Photographer: Keith W. Churill

Lighthouse History: Built in 1870, with supervision of design and construction appointed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Major O.M. Poe, this is another of  the "Tall Five" Great Lakes towers all constructed from the same plans with the classic "Poe" style. It is almost identical to the Little Sable lighthouse on Lake Michigan with the exception of it's markings, now white with green trim. Originally it's markings were the same red color. The light marks a turning point for vessels bound for the Straits of Mackinac.

The conical brick tower is 113 feet tall on a limestone foundation. It was constructed to replace the smaller Old Presque Isle light. 

The lighthouse was fitted with a Third Order Fresnel lens, manufactured by Henri LePaute of Paris, France and produced a white beacon with a lens focal plane of 123 feet above lake level for the first time in 1871. The lights visibility range is approximately 25 miles.

A cast iron spiral staircase leads to the watch room with 130 steps. An additional 7 steps lead up to the lantern room.

Patrick Garrity was transferred in 1871, from the now decommissioned Old Presque Isle light, as the first keeper of this lighthouse. The new, more spacious dwelling has a gabled roof and, unlike the old light, is attached to the tower. This was a welcome change for the Garrity's with their rearing of 10 children during their period of services. He would remain keeper of this lighthouse until 1885 when he took to keeping the two Presque Isle Range lights. His Keeper career would end up with a total of 50 years of service.

In 1890, a steam operated fog signal was installed. At that same time the U.S. Lighthouse Service authorized construction of a supply tramway. The tramway was approximately 2,400 feet long running from lighthouse out to the North dock where the lighthouse tenders moored. This tramway greatly eased the transfer of coal, oil and supplies up until the 1940's.

 

Photographer: Keith W. Churill

Photographer: Roy B. Westin

In 1939, all responsibilities of the U.S. Lighthouse Service were now that of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The light was automated in 1970 by the U.S. Coast Guard and now produces a white beacon on 15 second intervals using the original Third Order Fresnel lens. At the time of automation, keepers were no longer needed and the station was boarded-up.

Restoration: The keeper’s quarters have been completely restored as a combined museum and gift shop. Both inside and out, the entire station is in excellent condition.

The stone tower was deteriorating due to the harsh elements of Michigan's weather. To save the tower, the exterior was covered, from top to bottom, with a new course of modern white brick in the late 1990's. As seen in the photo's below, the tower is noticeably larger in diameter.

The lighthouse is now part of a 100 acre park owned and maintained by Presque Isle Township along with the Old Presque Isle lighthouse.

Photo courtesy of: U.S. Coast Guard

Photo during the late 1800's

click to enlarge

( clearly shows new brickwork )

New Presque Isle Lighthouse
4500 E. Grand Lake Road
Presque Isle MI 49777
(517) 595-9917

Hours: Mid-May thru Mid-October

7 days per week

9 A.M. to 6 P.M.

The tower is open to the public.

Photographer: Keith W. Churill

Photo during the Fall of 2001


 

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