Tour the
Ontonagon Lighthouse

On Lake Superior
By the Ontonagon River
Ontonagon MI 49953

Phone: 906-884-6165

The Historic Ontonagon Lighthouse, located by the west shore of the Ontonagon River
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.

Tours daily at 11am, 1:30pm, & 3:30pm from May 15 through mid-October.
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 Ontonagon County Historical Museum is Open Year Round
Summer Hours:
Monday through Friday: 10 am to 5 pm.
Saturday: 10 am to 4 pm.
Open Snnday: 10am to 3pm
July 1 through Labor Day Weekend
Winter Hours:
Monday through Saturday:
12 noon to 4pm
Closed on Sunday
Call the Museum at 906-884-6165 or stop by and we will be happy to arrange your 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 Ontonagon Harbor Pierhead Light, built in 1900 to replace the original light built in 1875, is not visible from the tower because of the trees, but there is a spot where you can view the light and take some pictures.

View of the present light from the Ontonagon Swing Bridge.

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.

A Little History

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 light in the Ontonagon Lighthouse is still lit and is a welcome sight as it guides pleasure craft into the harbor at Ontonagon and is especially beautiful at night shining through the night sky.

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.

Stop by the Historical Society Museum or call 906-884-6165 to plan your tour

Visit the Ontonagon Historical Society web site
for additional information and detailed history of the Ontonagon Lighthouse


Ontonagon Lodging and Businesses
Upper Peninsula Lighthouses on Lake Superior
Attractions and Recreation in the Upper Peninsula
Upper Peninsula Traveler Home Page

Photos by Mary Deloria, top photo courtesy of the Ontonagon Historical Society
Lighthouse at Night photograph by Ron Weza,

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