On Lake Superior
in Ontonagon, MI in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is open for tours.
Book your Lighthouse Tour at the Ontonagon County Historical Museum, the purple building with the pink door at 422 River Street (Highway 45) in Ontonagon.
Sunday Tour at 11am and 1:30pm from July 1 through Labor Day. Off season and group tours available.
Admission $5.00 with family and group rates available
Because the lighthouse is surrounded by private property, a tour bus and guide will take you to the Ontonagon Lighthouse where you begin your narrated tour.
The Gift Shop at the Museum has a nice collection of books, lighthouse, and nautical gifts.
The Ontonagon Lighthouse is furnished with period furnishings obtained by the Historical Society showing visitors what it was like in the early 1900's. The first floor is handicap accessible with some assistance and a handicap ramp to the second floor should be completed by the summer of 2006. Enjoy the interesting video presentation during your tour.
The original 5th order Fresnel Lens from 1857 is located in the Historical Society Museum and some of the original keeper's logs are on display. The light is presently lit with an automatic light that still guides ships into the Ontonagon harbor.
Located by the Ontonagon River, the lighthouse can be viewed and photographed from across the river. It is especially beautiful at night shining through the night sky.
The present Ontonagon Lighthouse was built in 1866 to replace the original wooden structure built in 1851-52, one of the earliest lights built on Lake Superior. The Ontonagon Light originally guided sailing vessels into the harbor as they came to pick up copper and lumber from the area and bring much needed supplies.
The Ontonagon lighthouse was built "schoolhouse" style, similar to Sand Point Lighthouse in Escanaba and the Copper Harbor Lighthouse, with a cream colored brick that was also used for the Peninsula Point Lighthouse on Lake Michigan. Originally a 1 & 1/2 story rectangular building, an 18" square gallery kitchen was added in 1890.
The 39' square tower is open for climbing and offers an outstanding view of Lake Superior and the Porcupine Mountains in the distance. Photos were taken from the Lighthouse tower.
You are probably wondering why the lighthouse is not right by the water - - It was, but Lake Superior has changed all that. Originally built on the Lake Superior shoreline with a high basement to protect it from high waves and flooding, the lighthouse has since "moved" back from the shore as the land has filled in with deposits of sediment dropped by waves coming off the lake.
The light was deactivated in 1963 after an automatic foghorn was installed on the west pier and a battery light was located at the end of the east pier, providing entrance into the Ontonagon harbor and marina.
The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places 1975 and was fortunately transferred to the Ontonagon County Historical Society in 2003 where they are in the process of restoring and protecting it for all of us to enjoy.
Visit the Ontonagon Historical Society web site
Photos by Mary Deloria, top photo courtesy of the
Ontonagon Historical Society
Copyright 2006 by Char Simons, webmaster. All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, this web site may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner. Unless authorized by the webmaster, reproduction of any picture, web page or pages on this website, www.exploringthenorth.com, for placement on the internet is a copyright infringement. All right, title and interest in and to the material on these web pages, the web site, in whole or in part, and in and to this url and the urls contained within, is the property of the webmaster. All website design, text, graphics, selection and arrangement thereof are the copyrighted works of Char Simons. Web site created on an Apple G-4