map of the Upper Peninsula showing location of Marquette Lighthouse
The Two RV Gypsies: Full-Time RVers
visited Marquette Lighthouse
300 North Lakeshore Boulevard
Marquette, MI 49855
(on Lake Superior)
September 9, 2015

NOTE: Due to the repainting of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, tours were suspended for the rest of the 2015 season. The Marquette Harbor Light is located on Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan, a part of the Upper Peninsula. It is an active aid to navigation.

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

history clipart bookTo help navigation towards ore docks, Congress approved funds to build the Marquette Harbor Light in 1850. Construction took place in 1852, and first lit in June 1853. However, the initial structure deteriorated rapidly, and funds were approved in 1865 for a replacement tower.

In 1875 the Army Corps of Engineers built a 2,000-foot breakwater to reduce the force of wind and waves in Marquette Harbor. A strong storm destroyed the original light in 1889. The new light sits on a concrete crib at the southernmost end of the breakwater wall.

The original lighthouse included seven 14-inch Lewis lamps, and a small detached 24-by-30-foot dwelling constructed of similar materials to that of the tower. In 1853, the United States Lighthouse Board was created and a major system upgrade brought on an installation of a Sixth Order French Fresnel lens in 1856. The new lens was visible up to 10 nautical miles. Because of weather conditions, installation, maintenance and operation of a foghorn was integral to the operation.

In July, 1899 the lighthouse was electrified under direction of Thomas Miller.

Construction of the current structure began in 1865. It includes a set of cast-iron spiral stairs winding from the first floor to the lantern centered on the square gallery atop the tower, a decagonal cast-iron lantern was installed, and a new fixed white Fourth Order Fresnel lens with a 190 degree arc of visibility was assembled atop its cast-iron pedestal. The focal plane is at 70 feet above the lake and visible for a distance of 10 nautical miles in clear weather.

The tower is attached to a church style lighthouse keeper's residence. The site was considered to be difficult and staffing was a problem. By 1882, after 29 years in operation, ten keepers had either been removed or resigned from service at Marquette

In 1891, a station of the U.S. Life-Saving Service began operations on the lighthouse grounds, with the station located to the west of the lighthouse, which in 1915 became part of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1939 the U.S. Lighthouse Service also merged under the control of the U.S. Coast Guard, placing all facilities on the grounds under the same government control. As part of the U.S. Coast Guard, the site became a training station during World War II with up to 300 recruits living in the various buildings on the facility grounds. The adjacent Coast Guard station is still active.

This light was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. It was also included on the state inventory in 1969.

In 2002, a 30-year lease was signed by the Marquette Maritime Museum, which is responsible for maintenance and control of the facility. As part of their operations, they also make the lighthouse available for scheduled tours. The lighthouse is normally open and tours are conducted from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. from mid-May through late October, except for the present day painting as stated above.

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse Marquette Harbor Lighthouse
Karen Duquette wades in Lake Superior by Marquette Lighthouse

Below: Karen Duquette walked in the cold waters of Lake Superior. This part of Lake Superior was not as rocky as the portion of Lake Superior where she swam after hiking to three waterfalls. It also did not have the waves. The other photos in Lake Superior can be seen through the link at the bottom of this page.

panorama of Lake Superior and Marquette Harbor Lighthouse
Karen Duquette entering Lake Superior Karen Duquette wading in Lake Superior
look below

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