Round Island Lighthouse, in the Straits of Mackinac, is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Michigan. Thousands of people see it each year from the ferries that pass from Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Round Island itself is about 378 acres and is uninhabited. It’s part of the Hiawatha National Forest. The lighthouse was constructed in 1895. It was decommissioned and abandoned in 1947. The abandoned lighthouse fell victim to the weather and vandals.
The Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed in 2009 as a non-profit organization to aid the preservation and restoration efforts for the lighthouse. Today, the lighthouse is threatened by historically high water levels in the Mackinac Straits, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron converge, and there is a pressing need to install more protective rocks around the building.
Matt McMullen first fell in love with Round Island Lighthouse when he did a Boy Scout work project 25 years ago. He has been working at the lighthouse each summer since 1996 and is now chairperson of the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society.
Ralph Krugler is the historian for the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society in Florida. He has spent several years researching the history of the light station, its keepers, and related subjects, and he’s put together an extensive book on the subject. He’s also on the board of directors of both the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society and the Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation. In this first installment of a series on Florida lighthouse history, he tells the story of Judge B. Isler, one of Hillsboro Inlet’s most interesting keepers.
Note: My apologies to native Michiganders for mispronouncing “Mackinac” in this episode. I know now that Mackinac and Mackinaw are pronounced the same way — “Mack-i-naw.” Who woulda thunk it? – Jeremy D’Entremont
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