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Michigan Island Light facts for kids

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Michigan Island Light
The current tower
Michigan Island Light is located in Wisconsin
Michigan Island Light
Michigan Island Light
Location in Wisconsin
Location Michigan Island, Wisconsin
Coordinates 46°52′17.154″N 90°29′49.545″W / 46.87143167°N 90.49709583°W / 46.87143167; -90.49709583
Year first constructed 1857
Year first lit 1869
Automated 1943
Foundation Concrete
Construction Steel
Tower shape White, Skeletal with a central column
Height 118 feet (36 m)
Focal height 170 feet (52 m)
Original lens Third and half order Fresnel lens
Current lens 12-inch (300 mm)Tideland Signal ML-300 Acrylic Optic
Range 11 nautical miles (20 km; 13 mi)
Characteristic White, Flashing, 6 sec
ARLHS number USA-494
USCG number 7-15275

The Michigan Island Lighthouse is a lighthouse operated by the National Park Service and located on Michigan Island on western Lake Superior in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.


Two historical lighthouses have served as the Michigan Island light. The older was constructed in 1857, but not activated until 1869. It served until 1929, when it was replaced by a taller, 118-foot (36 m) skeletal tower, which is still operational.

The 3½-order Fresnel lens, coupled with a 24,000-candela electric light and the 170-foot (52 m) focal plane (aided by its placement on a cliff) aided by the tower's location atop the cliff, made the light range of visibility to a "remarkable 22 miles." This was a relative rarity, being one of only a dozen used around the country, most of which were on the Great Lakes, These lights were typically reserved for places that were an especially serious hazard to navigation. See, for example, Sturgeon Point Light. Other Great Lakes lights that had 3½-order Fresnel lenses were at (in alphabetical order): DeTour Reef, Eagle Bluff, Grays Reef, Huron Island, St. Helena Island, and Toledo Harbor.

In 1972, the original Fresnel lens was replaced with a DCB-224 aero beacon manufactured by the Carlisle & Finch Company. In turn, that was replaced by the 12-inch (300 mm)Tideland Signal ML-300 acrylic optic. The restored Fresnel lens is on display at the visitor center of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Bayfield.

The structure shares its design with towers at Rawley Point Light on Lake Michigan and Whitefish Point Light at Lake Superior's eastern end. However, the Michigan Island tower has a small brick building located at the base of the center tube, apparently a workroom for the early lighthouse keepers.


Currently owned by the National Park Service and part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, it is a contributing property of the Apostle Islands Lighthouses, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It is also listed in the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, WI-317 (A-C).


Most of the Apostle Islands light stations can be reached on the Apostle Islands Cruise Service water taxi or by private boat during the summer. During the Annual Apostle Island Lighthouse Celebration, a ferry tour service is available for all the lighthouses. During the tourist season, volunteer park rangers are on many of the islands to greet visitors.

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