July 2, 2022
Whitefish Point, near the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is a critical turning point for maritime traffic entering Lake Superior. The point marks the eastern end of a notorious 80-mile stretch of shoreline that’s known as Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast. Of 550 known major shipwrecks in the vicinity, at least 200 have been near Whitefish Point. Probably the most famous was the 1975 loss of the steamer Edmund Fitzgerald and its crew of 29, just 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point.
Whitefish Point Light Station was established in 1849 and is the oldest operating lighthouse on the lake. The present skeletal-style lighthouse tower replaced the original stone tower in 1861. The 78-foot-tall cast-iron tower has four levels of bracing around a central cylindrical shaft.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at the Whitefish Point Light Station has become one of Michigan’s most popular destinations, attracting over 75,000 visitors each season. Bruce Lynn has been the executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum since 2013.
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