Old Presque Isle Lighthouse and Museum in Michigan
5295 E. Grand Lake Rd., Presque Isle, Michigan About 150 years ago Presque Isle had the finest harbor in the
5295 E. Grand Lake Rd., Presque Isle, Michigan
About 150 years ago Presque Isle had the finest harbor in the Great Lakes, a cove protected from Lake Huron’s fierce weather by headlands to the north and south. A busy port grew up there, and $5,000 was appropriated in 1838 from federal funds to build a lighthouse. In 1840 the light was lit, and for the next 30 years it served as a beacon to mariners up and down the coast.
In 1870 a taller lighthouse began service just a mile north, and the old light was left to weather the storms of time as best it might. Its four-foot-thick walls of hand-cut stone proved durable, and so did the keeper’s small cottage. In the early 1900s the property passed into private hands and was steadily restored by a series of owners. In 1995 the property passed to the local township, which continues its upkeep.
Today the cottage houses a museum crammed with curios, as a place on a trade route should be: a wine cabinet with hand-blown bottles, a crab-shaped incense burner, and a saucy Native American statuette. Best of all, one is urged to handle things, whether it’s the torpedo-boat binnacle or the elephant trainer’s hooked stick.
At the foot of the lighthouse is a bronze bell from Lansing city hall’s old clock tower. It weighs 3,425 pounds, more than 11/2 times that of the Liberty Bell, and visitors can make it ring out over the bay by pulling the bell hammer.
Open daily mid-May–mid-Oct. Admission charged.
Did you know?
The last keeper of the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, Patrick Garraty, Sr., was appointed by Abraham Lincoln.