East Breakwater Light
Upper Peninsula of Michigan
The picturesque red Manistique East Breakwater Light, located on the end of a concrete breakwater on the east side of the harbor where the Manistique River flows into Lake Michigan, welcomes travelers to the harbor town of Manistique in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The pier is located on the east side of Manistique where you will find walkways leading visitors to the beginning of the breakwater offering a good view of the Manistique Lighthouse. You can park at Lakeview Park and walk west on the boardwalk or turn south at the first road east of the bridge to the parking lot near the marina and take the path to the pier. While the lighthouse is not open to the public, you can easily see it from the end of the breakwater and get some great photos. On a good day you can walk out to the lighthouse, but caution is strongly advised as winds and waves can be treacherous.
The lighthouse is an active aid to navigation guiding ships into the Manistique marina. Be sure to get an evening or night view of the light shining out over Lake Michigan.
The present Manistique Light was first lit on August 17, 1916 and is a bright red square tower with a black lantern room. A black staircase leads from the pier to the door of the lighthouse. Small round windows provide light to the interior, but the tower is not open to visitors. This light replaced the pierhead lights that were built in 1914.
To view the keepers dwelling turn north on Range Street (the first street east of the Hiawatha National Forest Visitor Center), go 1 very short block north, and you will see the home on the right (east) side of the street on the corner. The first keeper of the Manistique Light was Charles Corlette, serving from 1914 to 1920.
The Manistique Breakwater Light was originally outfitted with a fourth order Fresnel lens, presently on exhibit at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manotowoc.
In 1969 the light was automated with a 300 mm acrylic optic and the keepers dwelling was sold to be used as a private residence.
When you drive through Manistique, stop for a while and enjoy the wonderful Lake Michigan sand beach and boardwalk and the picturesque lighthouse. You will find the Manistique area inviting and it offers a variety of lodgings and restaurants to make your stay enjoyable.
Manistique was an important shipping port in the late 1800's when logs were floated down the Manistique River from logging camps to local sawmills, cut into boards, and the lumber was shipped out to build cities near the lower part of Lake Michigan. Piers were built on each side of the mouth of the Manistique River where it emptied into Lake Michigan to keep the river entrance open and to provide ships access to this harbor of refuge during bad weather. The original lights were simple markers on the end of the old pierheads and were replaced in 1914 by a skeleton steel tower on the west breakwater and a light on the west pierhead
There was also a fog signal on the end of the pier operated by compressed air. The square lighthouse was about 38' tall with a black lantern room at the top holding the 4th order Fresnel lens. The lighthouse was manned by a keeper and one assistant.
Ship captains and travelers still look forward to seeing the Manistique Breakwater Light welcoming them to the friendly harbor town of Manistique, Michigan.
Photos: Mary Deloria and the US. Coast Guard Historians Office
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