White Shoal Lighthouse is twenty miles west of the Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw City at the northeast end of Lake Michigan. Work on the lighthouse began in the spring of 1908. The crib foundation was built using 400,000 square feet of timber, 3700 cubic yards of concrete, and 4000 tons of rock. The lantern originally held a bivalve second-order Fresnel lens, which rotated on mercury. The light is 125 feet above the mean surface of the lake. In 1954 the tower was given its distinctive red and white spiral bands.
The lighthouse was sold via online auction in 2016. Five bidders participated in the auction, which ended in September 2016 with a high bid of $110,009. The new owners, Brent Tompkins and Mike Lynch, founded the White Shoal Light Historical Preservation Society. The mission of the organization is to fully restore White Shoal Light to the mid-1950s era and make it accessible to the public. Tompkins and Lynch are both licensed contractors and they’re using their skills and training as they restore the lighthouse.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org