Thursday, October 19, 2017

ISLE ROYALE LIGHTHOUSE

MENAGERIE ISLAND, LAKE SUPERIOR, NEAR HOUGHTON, MI
Station Established: 1875
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1875
Operational? YES
Automated? 1913
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: ROCK
Construction Materials: RED SANDSTONE
Tower Shape: OCTAGONAL
Markings/Pattern: RED
Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL
Characteristic: FLASHING WHITE 0.4 SECOND
Fog Signal: NONE
Radiobeacon: NONE

Historical Information:

  • Isle Royale is located just 14 miles south of the Canadian border.
  • Copper was discovered on the island in 1843 and two camps were established. Rock Harbor Lighthouse was built in 1855 to guide ships to the camp on the northern of the island. When the copper boom went bust in 1859, the light was extinguished.
  • Copper was soon in demand again and miners returned to Isle Royale. Rock Harbor Lighthouse was re-lit. It soon became obvious that another light was needed. A decision was made to put the station on Menagerie Island, a small easterly island off of Isle Royale that marks the entrance to Siskiwit Bay. A 61-foot sandstone tower was lit in 1875 with a fourth order Fresnel lens. Four other structures were built at the same time including a keeper’s dwelling which was connected to the tower by a covered walkway.
  • When the production of the copper mines ceased the maritime traffic also dwindled. The light was automated in 1913. The original Fresnel lens was removed and replaced with a modern optic at an unknown date.
  • The lighthouse is an active aid to navigation and is part of the Isle Royale National Park.

Researched and written by Melissa Buckler, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.