Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, Michigan (with Map & Photos)

The Sturgeon Point Light Station is a lighthouse on Lake Huron in Haynes Township, Alcona County, northeast Lower Michigan. Established to draw sailors away from a reef that extends 1.5 miles (2.4 km) into the lake from Sturgeon Point, today it is considered a historical example of a Great Lakes style lighthouse of Cape Cod.

Sturgeon Point Light
Sturgeon Point Light

History


The Sturgeon Point Light station was built in 1869 by the United States Lighthouse Board. The Board was in the midst of a Great Lakes lighthouse construction boom due to increased maritime traffic and in response to a large number of lost ships and men: Congress passed 70 lights in the west of the Great Lakes in thirty years: 28 in 1850 and 21 in each of the following decades. The location is approximately midway between Alpena's Thunder Bay Island and the north entrance to Saginaw Bay.

It is important to note that this point is located on a formidable reef that is an imminent danger to thenavigation. Additionally, the area north of Sturgeon Point and south of Alcona, Michigan, is a bay that can provide shelter from north and south winds and waves. Historically, this area is known locally as "Sanctuary Bay", which is in sharp contrast to "Misery Bay", the area to the north, between Alpena and Thunder Bay Island. The Lighthouse Board further recognized that being able to navigate near (but not over) the reef and point would aid transportation to and from Saginaw Bay.

Sturgeon Point Light
Sturgeon Point Light

It is made of brick masonry on a foundation of ashlar limestone. The tower is 70 feet 9 inches (21.56 m) tall, with a diameter of 16 feet (4.9 m) at the base. The focal plane is listed by the Coast Guard at 69 feet (21 m), which would be the height from the "mid high water mark." That figure is important, as sailors could use it to plot their location, using a triangulation method to give them the distance to the light.

The quarters of the guard lighthouse adjacent, two story, were designed in the Cape Cod style and were built with the same materials. At the time, the Board often used this architectural motif. In fact, Poverty Island Light, built in 1874, is considered a "brother" as it is a direct copy of Sturgeon Point.

Sturgeon Point Light
Sturgeon Point Light

The light was about to start its service with a sixth order Fresnel lens, which was upgraded to a end lens (originally installed in Oswego, New York). It was one of twelve used throughout the country, most of which are in the Great Lakes. The other order lenses of the Great Lakes were in (in alphabetical order):DeTour Reef (two order lenses, after clamshell lens broke), Eagle Bluff,Grays Reef,Huron Island, Michigan Island,St Helena IslandandPuerto de Toledo.

The Sturgeon Point Light lens is certainly a third and a half order lens. As Terry Pepper, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, wrote on August 6, 2012: "I've personally measured it".

Sturgeon Point Light Map