Marquette Breakwater Light, Lake Superior
Along with the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, the Marquette Breakwater Light is one of two Michigan lighthouses that mark the entrance to the lower harbor at Marquette, Michigan. The harbor lighthouse was the first beacon in the area to guide mariners in from Lake Superior, as the breakwater (which is roughly 2,000 feet long) wasn’t constructed until the 1870s.
Iron ore shipping was booming in Marquette in the mid-1800s, but the lower harbor had no protection from wind and waves off of Lake Superior. The breakwater was constructed to provide relief for ships entering and exiting the harbor. Many different lights preceded the one currently seen at the end of the breakwater, but weather and waves brought them down. In the early 1900s a rubble/stone extension elbow was added to the breakwater angling southeast from the existing structure. A small skeletal light can be found at the end of the concrete breakwater (shown above).
The Marquette Breakwater Light is a cylindrical tower that is white with a red band painted in the middle. It replaced a square skeletal tower here in 1985, and the Fresnel lens that was used in that light is on display at the maritime museum. This light stands a little more than 30 feet tall, and gains a bit more focal height thanks to its position atop a square concrete base.
The walk out on the breakwater also provides great views of other Marquette landmarks. From here you get a unique view of the lower harbor and the old ore dock, as well as a different view looking back at the Coast Guard station and the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. The easiest access to the breakwater comes from the foot path that runs parallel to the Coast Guard property on Lakeshore Blvd. This path starts directly across from the Marquette Maritime Museum and will lead visitors all the way out to the light – use caution as weather conditions may make foot travel difficult or impossible.