Inaccessible for many years, Crisp Point Lighthouse can now be visited by car. A road has been opened all the way to the lighthouse. Bring Your Camera!
Crisp's Point Lighthouse is located on the deserted shore of Lake Superior, just 37 miles north of Newberry, Michigan. Crisp's Point Lighthouse is considered one of the most inaccessible and lonely mainland lighthouses in the Upper Peninsula, yet can be reached by taking a narrow country road through the Lake Superior State Forest.
The Crisps Point Lighthouse was built on the edge on what was and still largely is primeval forest. The road is well marked and seems to go on forever but it's well worth the trip. You drive on and on through the forest until you make that final turn and the spectacular tower comes into view above the trees. This is a gravel but well traveled road as many people may now enjoy the lighthouse, a great photographic opportunity for lighthouse lovers.
This stately light was activated on March 5 or May 5, 1904 (conflicting data) at the established Crisp's Point Life Saving Station, where the "Storm Warriors" of Life Saving Station #10 battled the violence of Lake Superior to save shipwrecked sailors. The Life Saving Station was named for it's first Keeper and famed lifesaver, Christopher Crisp.
The Life Saving Station consisted of a combination five room station house with room for the Keeper and Serfmen, serfboats, and necessary life-saving apparatus. A tall lookout tower stood by the Keepers house and several houses for serfmen and their families were built on the grounds.
A Fog Signal building was added to the Life Saving Station in 1903 but was destroyed by a violent storm the same year and had to be rebuilt. The lighthouse, an oil house containing fuel for the light and fog horn, and a two-story brick Light Keepers dwelling with a basement were constructed in 1904 and added to the Crisp's Point Life Saving Station. This dwelling was for the Lighthouse Keeper and the two Assistant Keepers.
At this time there were two Keepers at Crisp's Point. The Keeper of the Life Saving Station was James Scott and the first Keeper of the Crisp's Point Lighthouse was John Smith.
Other outbuildings were then added such as two barns, a boathouse and landing, and a tramway to aid in launching the surf boats. The lighthouse originally contained a 360 degree red Fourth Order Fresnel Lens beaming out light for 15 miles over Lake Superior, but was replaced by a plastic lens of 300 millimeters. A brick service room was added in 1906 and a landing crib was added on the Lake Superior shoreline in 1907. All but the lighthouse are now gone.
(1935 photo of Lighthouse and Light Keepers Dwelling, courtesy of the United States Coast Guard. Note that the lighthouse was not at the shoreline at this time.)
Known Keepers of the Crisp's Point Light were:
The last Keeper of the light, Joseph Singleton who retired about 1939, has members of his family still residing in Luce County. The Light Station was deactivated and abandoned in 1947 and Lake Superior took over Crisp's Point. Storms damaged the station so badly that it was necessary for the Coast Guard to demolish the buildings in 1965, but they left the Lighthouse tower and service building standing. Since then, Lake Superior has demolished all but one wall of the service building.
In February of 1997 the Crisp's Point Light was saved from the auction block and purchased by Luce County, but Lake Superior's violent storms still wrecked havoc on the lighthouse. The Crisp's Point Historical Society was formed. They leased the land from Luce County and major preservation was started. Stone and sandbags have been hauled in and placed to try to stop the erosion, the tower has been cleaned and whitewashed, a memorial boardwalk has been built around the lighthouse and a tree and bush planting project has been initiated. The search is also underway for the original Fourth Order Fresnel Lens.
The Crisps Point Historical Society welcomes any help you might give in the form of donations or just plain hard work on the restoration process.
Volunteers are welcome to offer tours of the lighthouse or help with planting and maintaining the grounds. At the south side of the lighthouse there is a guest book for you to sign, brochures about the lighthouse and a pipe with a slit near the top for dropping donations. You may want to drop in a donation to aid in the preservation of this historic lighthouse and help save it from the ravages of Lake Superior.
(Photo above right by Crisp Point Lighthouse Historical Society Member Fred Zurcher. Notice the start of the sandbagging effort to keep the lighthouse from falling into Lake Superior.)
If you would like to assist in the preservation of Crisp's Point Lighthouse in any way,
Crisp Point Historical Society
A drive out to Crisp's Point is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. Enjoy the drive through the forest, take a walk along the deserted sandy beach, wade in cool Lake Superior, and maybe hunt for a few agates while you visit this beautiful Light Tower.
Take M-123 north of Newberry to the intersection with CR-500 (this is a gravel road). Turn north on CR-500 to the intersection of CR-412. Take CR-412, follow the signs, and you will go right to the Lighthouse. On your return trip, watch carefully for the intersection with CR-500 and you will soon be back on M-123.
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