Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse – Mackinaw City
Few Michigan lighthouses are as iconic and easily recognizable as the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Mackinaw City, a stunning structure found near the Mackinac Bridge. This lighthouse was constructed in 1892, many years before a bridge existed to connect the two peninsulas. Mackinac Point proved to be a better location for a lighthouse than McGulpin Point (where a lighthouse was constructed in 1869) which is three miles to the west. The lighthouse served well until the Mackinac Bridge was finished in 1957, when the lights on the bridge made the lighthouse unnecessary.
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is constructed of Cream City brick, with a tower that is 50 feet tall. The tower and attached dwelling have a castle-like appearance, which is no doubt part of its charm for visitors. “Construction of the light tower and attached lightkeepers’ dwelling began, and the light was first displayed on October 25, 1892. According to the Michigan historical marker in front of the lighthouse grounds, “heavy iron and brass castings were used throughout the structure, and the light was visible to ships sixteen miles away.” The roof is bright red and the entire structure features many tall, rectangular windows. Three rooms inside have been restored to their 1910 appearance and are one of the highlights of a tour.
Thanks to extensive restoration in 2000, the lighthouse is now open as a maritime museum. Mackinac State Historic Parks operates the site, and a small entrance fee is charged. Tower tours and displays about shipwrecks (including artifacts) also help enhance a visit. You can find out more, including hours and fees at: http://www.mackinacparks.com/parks-and-attractions/old-mackinac-point-lighthouse/.
It is free to visit the park that surrounds the lighthouse, which also happens to be one of the best places to get a view of the Mackinac Bridge and watch passing freighters. Historic Fort Michlimackinac is a separate state park that can be reached by a short walk.
The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse can also be viewed from the water on the Shepler’s Ferry Westbound Lighthouse Cruise. This is one of our favorite lighthouses in the state, and one that we have been visiting regularly since the 1990s. You’ll find the lighthouse, and a large parking area (including bus parking) at 526 N. Huron Ave.
Check out more of our Mackinaw City posts: