History Presque Isle Light Station (Light House), Presque Isle Michigan

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In 1840, the U.S. Lighthouse Board constructed a small lighthouse at the base of the Presque Isle Harbor Peninsula to guide ships safely into the nearby harbor of refuge. However, with the growth of shipping on the Great Lakes, and passenger travel, ships required more than just a harbor light to guide them safely along its coastline. Thus, in 1868, the Lighthouse Board recommended construction of the Presque Isle Light Station, one mile north of the old lighthouse at an important navigation point for the north and southbound shipping lanes through the Straits of Mackinac. The Board acquired from the public domain a land reserve at the head of the Presque Isle Harbor Peninsula for lighthouse purposes and submitted a request for Congressional appropriation. On July 15th, 1870, the United States Congress appropriated $28,000 for development of a coastal light facility at Presque Isle and, later, an additional $6,000 for construction of the first keeper's dwelling.

Engineer O. M. Poe began work on the new coast line shortly after the release of funds in 1870. Due to the short construction season on the Great Lakes, and to the complexities of lighthouse construction, members of the Lighthouse Board did not believe that the facility could be completed before the end of 1870. After the tender WARRINGTON delivered materials for the building, work on the light station was "unexpectedly completed" before the arrival of winter. The Board transmitted notice to mariners of the light's establishment and lit the lantern for the first time at the opening of the 1871 navigation season.

On March 2nd, 1889, the Lighthouse Board received an appropriation of $5,500 for a steam fog signal. Arriving on the steam barge RUBY in June 1890, the apparatus was in place at the head of the peninsula and functioning by the end of the shipping season.

The maintenance schedule for the steam fog signal required the services of an assistant keeper. The Lighthouse Board received an appropriation of $5,000 for a second dwelling. Work on the second house began in April 1904 and was completed by September 1905. In 1906, the Board converted the first keeper's dwelling into two apartments for the assistant keeper and staff, and made the new house the main residence for the complex.

The Presque Isle Light Station received electrical and plumbing systems in the 1940s. By the 1950s, several of the light station's buildings had deteriorated or lost their original functions. The Coast Guard demolished all but the light tower and the two keepers' residences over the next ten years. The light was automated in the early 1970s, eliminating the need to have a keeper in residence.

Today, the U.S. Coast Guard owns and maintains the Presque Isle Light Station and releases the remainder of the complex to Presque Isle Township as a public park and recreation area. The township employs a live-in caretaker, who maintains the facilities and grounds. The three historic buildings, which served as the focal points for the light station, remain in their traditional environment and serve as reminders of the area's role in the development of travel and shipping on the Great Lakes.