This annual event celebrates the historic lighthouses here in our great state of Michigan. Being a state that is surrounded by the great lakes it’s no surprise that we have the most lighthouses of any state in the country. The first lighthouse in Michigan was built in 1825. There was no electricity in those days so oil lamps were used to provide the guiding light to ships in Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron. At its peak of the lighthouse era Michigan had 250 lighthouses.

The yearly Lighthouse Festival is being hosted this year at Mission Point, as that location is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Mission Point offers a beautiful view of Traverse Bay, with a gift shop, museum and a very nice park with walking trails and a beach. Today there are more than 120 lighthouses still remaining in Michigan. This year's festival happens August 6th and 7th, August 7th is actually National Lighthouse Day.

Even though we have beautiful lighthouses all around our state, the Traverse City area is where the event is happening. Along with the host Mission Point lighthouse there are others in the Traverse City area participating in the festival.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

This one is by Northport, at the tip of the peninsula at the Leelanau State Park. This lighthouse was built in 1858.

Point Betsie Lighthouse

Located in Frankfurt off scenic M-22. This one was also built in 1858, marking the southern entrance of the Manitou passage.

North Manitou Shoal Light

This lighthouse is actually offshore and not safe to visit. This lighthouse called “The Crib” can’t be toured but can be viewed fairly close from the ferry that runs between Leland and the Manitou Islands.

South Manitou Island Lighthouse

Considered one of the country's most scenic lighthouses, you get to this location via ferry from Leland. The 104 foot tower is open for tours and provides a great view of the Manitou Passage.

Lighthouse Technology Has Drastically Changed Over The Years

With the convenience of electric lamps, the need for constant monitoring by lighthouse keepers was really no longer needed. Advances such as electrical timers made it possible to have the lights to basically operate themselves. As the number of keepers reduced, they were replaced with occasional visits to verify proper operation and perform any maintenance needed. By the early 1980’s there were technically no longer any keepers at all, with the Coast Guard assuming responsibility for the operation.

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Michigan Lighthouses are a thing of beauty and we are fortunate enough to have preserved this part of our nautical history. The 2021 Michigan Lighthouse Festival is happening Friday and Saturday August 6th and 7th. Take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy some historical beauty in our state. Here’s a schedule of events.

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