• Indianhead Point stands tall along the Pictured Rocks. Photo copyright Craig Blacklock

    Pictured Rocks

    National Lakeshore Michigan

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Maritime Sites

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore interprets the stories associated with the U.S. Lighthouse Service, U.S. Life Saving Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Facilities at Munising, Sand Point, Au Sable Point, and Grand Marais are dedicated to this history. They date from 1874 at the Au Sable Light Station through 1975 at the Munising Range Light, and include contemporary aids to navigation.



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Au Sable Light Station
Munising U.S. Coast Guard Station
Munising Front Range Light and Auxiliary Station
Munising Rear Range Light
Grand Marais U.S. Coast Guard Station
Grand Marais Harbor of Refuge
Shipwrecks For more information

U.S. Coast Guard History - pdf


 
Au Sable Light Station stands guard over Lake Superior with its red brick keepers house and white light tower.

Au Sable Light Station

NPS photo/Chris Case

Au Sable Light Station
Located at the Au Sable Point, 12 miles west (drive) of Grand Marais to the Hurricane River Campground then 1.5 miles (walk) east.

In 1872, Congress appropriated $40,000 to build at lighthouse at Au Sable Point. The light station began operation on August 19, 1874. The light tower is 86 feet high, and shines its beacon 18 miles out on Lake Superior.

In 1958, the Coast Guard converted the light station to an automatic unattended light, and discontinued the fog signal.

In January 1968, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred the property to the National Park Service. The Coast Guard still maintains an active aid to navigation on the light tower.
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The former Munising U.S. Coast Guard Station now serves as Park Headquarters for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Munising U.S. Coast Guard Station

NPS photo/Chris Case

Munising U.S. Coast Guard Station
Located at N8391 Sand Point Road, Munising, Michigan

Construction began in 1932 at an original cost of about $15,000, and included the station, watch tower, and boathouse with accompanying wharf and launchway. The station officially opened on May 16, 1933, with a crew of ten.

Decommissioned in 1960, the station became Park Headquarters for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the late 1960s.
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The former Munising Range Light Auxiliary Station is now part of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Munising Front Range Light and Auxiliary Station

NPS photo

Munising Front Range Light and Auxiliary Station
Located at 604 West Munising Avenue, Munising, Michigan

In 1907, Congress appropriated $15,000 for construction of the station. The front range light and its accompanying rear range light became operation on October 30, 1908. The front range tower stands at 58 feet overlooking Munising Bay with a focal plane of 79 feet.

The accompanying auxiliary station now serves as offices for the Science and Resource Stewardship Division, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
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With its companion front range light, the Munising Rear Range Light helps guide mariners into Munising Bay.

Munising Rear Range Light

NPS photo

Munising Rear Range Light
Located two blocks south of the Front Range Light, at the end of Hemlock Street

The Rear Range Light is nestled on the hillside overlooking Munising Bay. The steel tower is 33 feet, and provides a focal plane of 107 feet.

The Munising Range Lights were built to aid vessels navigating through the narrow passage east and south of Grand Island into the main harbor. The lights remain an active aid to navigation.
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The former Grand Marais U.S. Coast Guard Station now serves as a Ranger Station at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Grand Marais Ranger Station

NPS photo / Ed Lasich

Grand Marais U.S. Coast Guard Station
Located at E22030 Coast Guard Point Road, Grand Marais, Michigan

The U.S. Coast Guard opened this station in 1938, replacing a structure built in 1899 by the U.S. Life Saving Service. The Coast Guard deactivated the station in 1981, and transferred the property to the National Park Service.

The three story wood frame building overlooks Lake Superior, and currently serves as a ranger station for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. A keepers quarters is nearby as well as the Harbor of Refuge building.
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The Grand Marais Harbor of Refuge now houses the Grand Marais Historical Society's Lighthouse Keepers House and Museum.

Grand Marais Harbor of Refuge

NPS photo

Grand Marais Harbor of Refuge
Located at the end of Coast Guard Point Road, Grand Marais, Michigan

The Harbor of Refuge house was built in 1908 by the U.S. Life Saving Service as the Lightkeeper's dwelling. It was constructed at a cost of $5,000, and is a duplicate to the station at the Munising Range Lights. U.S. Coast Guard families lived in the house until the station closed in 1981.

In 1984, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred its Grand Marais property to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The Grand Marais Historical Society leases the building from the National Park Service, and operates the Lightkeepers House Museum.

 
The remains of a shipwreck on the beach between Hurricane River and the Au Sable Light Station.

Shipwreck remains near Hurricane River

NPS photo

Shipwrecks
The shipwrecks of Lake Superior's "Graveyard Coast" represent many eras of shipping. They are relatively well preserved because they have been spared from the human pressures of population and industry.

While most shipwreck remains can only be seen by scuba diving or a cruise boat, some are visible along the shoreline.

Much of the shoreline of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore lies within the Alger Underwater Preserve, which ensures its further preservation.
Shipwreck site bulletin - pdf

 
East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island.

Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse

Photo by Chris Case


Additional maritime history websites
National Park Service Maritime Heritage Program
www.nps.gov/history/maritime

Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy
www.michiganlights.com
Seeing the Light - Lighthouses of the Western Great Lakes
www.terrypepper.com
Lighthouse Tours - United States Lighthouses
www.lighthousetours.org

Alger Underwater Preserve
www.michiganpreserves.org/alger.htm
Grand Island East Channel Light
www.terrypepper.com/lights/superior/eastchannel/
Grand Island North Light
www.terrypepper.com/lights/superior/grandnorth/index.htm
Grand Island Range Lights
www.terrypepper.com/lights/superior/grandrange/index.html
 

Did You Know?

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the Hiawatha National Forest share a visitor center at 400 E. Munising Ave. in Munising, Michigan.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore shares a visitor center with the Hiawatha National Forest. The interagency visitor center was dedicated in 1988, and serves over 40,000 people annually. Other federal interagency visitor centers are located in Alaska, Utah, California, and Idaho. More...