Light Hearted

Light Hearted ep 175 – Lauren Nelson, Fort Gratiot, Michigan

With the 1825 completion of the Erie Canal, which linked the Great Lakes to the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean, maritime traffic in the Great Lakes increased dramatically. As the canal was being completed, Congress appropriated funds for a light station near Fort Gratiot, in the southern portion of Michigan’s thumb. When the light station was established at Fort Gratiot in 1825, it was the first light station in the state of Michigan. The original 32-foot-tall tower fell after being damaged in an 1828 storm and it was soon rebuilt, with the new tower first lighted in the spring of 1830.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Michigan. USLHS photo.

The Coast Guard vacated the light station with the construction of the new Coast Guard Station Port Huron, built in 2004. In 2010 ownership was transferred to St. Clair County Parks and Recreation. With funds from the City of Port Huron and other sources, some restoration work was completed and the light station was opened to the public in 2012. Port Huron Museums operates the site, and the Friends of Fort Gratiot Light also work for the preservation of the lighthouse and other buildings. A recent grant from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program will enable St. Clair County Parks and Recreation to hire a consultant to rehabilitate the lighthouse tower’s watch room and lantern room.

The keepers’ duplex house at Fort Gratiot Light Station (courtesy of Port Huron Museums)
Lauren Nelson (courtesy of Port Huron Museums)

Lauren Nelson is the site manager of Fort Gratiot Light Station for Port Huron Museums.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse website

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