Fort Gratiot Lighthouse – Michigan’s Oldest Lighthouse, Port Huron
We’ve mentioned a few times before that Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state in the country, but did you know that Michigan is also home to one of the oldest continually operating lights on the Great Lakes? The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron has history dating back to 1825, and it marks the point where the St. Clair River and Lake Huron meet. This is a busy and important domestic and international shipping channel, which is why the light continues to shine today. The lighthouse complex has been open as a museum since 2012, and tower climbs are possible during the summer.
The light is bordered by an active U.S. Coast Guard Station to its south and a park with a playground and a sandy beach to its north. Canada can be seen across the river, and the Blue Water Bridge can be seen clearly from the beach. The lighthouse tower is white with a red-capped lantern room and it stands 84 feet tall, with a small attached workshop room.
A large brick keeper’s house stands a few hundred feet back from the light tower, and a smaller dwelling is located next to that. A brick fog signal building is also located in this cluster of buildings near the tower. A sidewalk from the fog signal building leads to the view seen above, with several informational plaques that detail the history of the light, keeper’s duties, and the Great Storm of 1913.
Away from the tower and back near the parking area is the former hospital, which has seen some renovation and restoration take place but could still use more work. There is a Michigan historical marker near the flagpole in the parking lot, and its text reads:
This lighthouse, oldest in Michigan, was built in 1829 to replace a tower destroyed by a storm. Lucius Lyon, the builder, was Deputy Surveyor General of the Northwest Territory and later a United States senator from Michigan. In the 1860s workers extended the tower to its present height of 84 feet. The light, automated in 1933, continues to guide shipping on Lake Huron into the narrow and swift-flowing St. Clair River.
You can find the lighthouse at 2802 Omar St., at the point where Garfield St. and Omar St. meet. There is parking available inside the complex near the garage seen above, and if overflow parking is needed there is a lot at the park north of the light. Find out everything about operating months, days and hours as well as costs for the tour and tower climb at http://www.phmuseum.org/fort-gratiot-lighthouse/. When the grounds aren’t open, you can still get a nice view of the lighthouse from the beach accessed through the park. Be sure to check out the other Port Huron museums too – the Lightship HURON at 800 Prospect Place and the Thomas Edison Depot Museum at 510 Edison Parkway.
We got a chance to see this lighthouse from the other side of the river in June, when we crossed the Blue Water Bridge and stopped in Point Edward, Ontario to check out a range light.