2018 Around the Shoreline of the Great Lakes travel blog

Old Presque Isle Lighthouse

From the top and all sides

A look into the keepers quarters of the old lighthouse

Brass bell from Lansing, MI City Hall - it's loud.

Standing with the keeper, Patrick Garrity

Views of the new Presque Isle Lighthouse

Views from the top of the new lighthouse

113 steps to the top of the new lighthouse and then a...

Anna Garrity, lady lightkeeper at the Old Presque Isle Range Light

Looking across the bay toward the old lighthouse from the range light

We drove up the coast a little today to visit the lighthouses of Presque Isle. Presque Isle is a peninsula that sticks out into Lake Huron. The area is kind of remote, but there are numerous homes (vacation or year round?). The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses on the Great Lakes. On July 5, 1838, the year after Michigan gained statehood, Congress appropriated $5,000 for  construction of a lighthouse at Presque Isle. By 1868, less than 30 years after construction, the original Keeper’s House was rapidly  deteriorating and plans were made to construct a new lighthouse just north of the old lighthouse. In February 1871 notice was given to mariners that the new Presque Isle Lighthouse would go into service for that year’s shipping season. Nearly 150 years later, the new lighthouse is still used as an aid to navigation.

Patrick Garrity was the lighthouse keeper at the old lighthouse and with the completion of the new one he and his family moved into thaw new quarters. He served 30 more years at the new light. His wife was the Assistant Keeper. There is a statue of Patrick at the old light.

With the old light extinguished, a Range Light was constructed in 1870 to safely guide mariners into Presque Isle Harbor. In 1903 Anna Garrity, daughter of Mary and Patrick, became keeper of the Range Light, making her one of a small group of female keepers on the  Great Lakes.  A statue of Anna was erected at the Range Light to honor her service.

I was able to climb to the top of both lighthouses. Sue declined. The old lighthouse is 30 ft. tall with about 30 or 40 steps to the light. You can walk out on the catwalk for a great view of Lake Huron and Presque Isle Bay. The new lighthouse stands nearly 80 ft. taller at 113 ft. and has 113 steps to a short stairway to the door to the catwalk. The view from the top was spectacular.

After the old lighthouse was decommissioned it deteriorated for a number of years until private owners began a restoration. By the late 1930s the two-story Keeper’s House, also built in 1840, was structurally unsound and had to be replaced. A new one story building with a loft, was erected on the original foundation. There’s also a bell nearby which once hung in the clock tower of Old City Hall at Lansing, Michigan’s capital. It was brought the site when the City Hall was demolished. Tipping the scales at an impressive 3,425 pounds, this bronze behemoth is much bigger than the Liberty Bell, which weighed 2,080 pounds when cast. You can ring it and Sue did. It is loud.

If the weather holds we’ll probably explore one or two of the other lighthouses in along the shores of Lake Huron. Stay tuned.

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