Alpena Light – A Unique and Iconic Breakwater Lighthouse on Lake Huron
Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state in the country, and each one is unique in its own way. The Alpena Light is the only surviving one of its kind in Michigan and possibly the entire United States, with its skeletal design and bright red color. This is the third light constructed here, and the tower rises just over 30 feet on four metal legs.
This lighthouse traces its history back to 1914, when Alpena was a busy timber port. Times have changed and these days most visiting freighters are headed to the LaFarge Cement Plant, but the light still serves to guide mariners into the harbor. The light was painted red in the 1950s so it would be more visible during daytime hours.
The best views of this light come from the end of a breakwater that surrounds the local marina. Prentiss St. ends at a parking lot, and the breakwater begins there. It is a short walk on the smooth, flat path to get to the end of the breakwater and the Thunder Bay River’s meeting point with Lake Huron. A short, slim light can be seen at the end of a rock breakwall on the south side and it is white with a green stripe.
The red light on the north side has drawn visual comparison to a satellite and earned the nickname “Sputnik” at one time. Today, it is a source of local pride and easily recognized amongst the many lights on the Lake Huron shore. Alpena will once again host the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival this year, with events being held from October 8th – 11th. More information on the festival can be found over at http://lighthousefestival.org/.
To get to this lighthouse, take US-23 through downtown Alpena just south of its intersection with M-32. Turn onto Prentiss St., then make a slight right onto Prentiss as it splits away from S. Harbor Dr. There are about 20 parking spots here and you should be able to see the light from the parking area.