July 23, 2022
In 1890, the Lighthouse Board recommended a lighthouse at Forty Mile Point, on the northeast coast of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The primary reason for the light was so that as mariners traveled along the western part of Lake Huron between Mackinaw Point and the Saint Clair River, they would never be out of viewing range of a lighthouse. The name of Forty Mile Point stems from the fact that its location is 40 miles southeast of Mackinaw Point. The light station began service in 1897, with a square tower centered on the lake-facing side of a duplex keepers’ house.
The station was automated and de-staffed in 1969. Two years later, the property was deeded to Presque Isle County, except for the lighthouse building itself. Finally, in 1998, the lighthouse was transferred to the county. Since then, the county and the Forty Mile Point Lighthouse Society have been working to restore the entire site. The park is open year-round to the public. One apartment in the lighthouse is occupied by a full-time caretaker; the other apartment is now a nautical museum staffed by volunteers. Pat Williams is the vice president of the Forty Mile Point Lighthouse Society, and Eric Klein is the resident caretaker at the light station.
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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