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. Park facilities at Munising, Sand Point, Au Sable Point, and Grand Marais are dedicated to preserving 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.
In 1872, Congress appropriated $40,000 to build at lighthouse at Au Sable Point. The light station began operation on August 19, 1874. At 86 feet high, the light tower is the tallest lighthouse on this stretch of the southern Lake Superior shore. The original fixed white light could be seen 17 miles out on the lake.
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. more ...
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.
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 operational on October 30, 1908. The front range tower, which is still operational, 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.
Munising Rear Range Light
Located two blocks south of the front range light, at the end of Hemlock Street, slighly up on the forested hillside. The steel tower, which is much shorter than the front range light, is 33 feet tall.
The Munising Range Lights were built to aid vessels navigating through the narrow passage east and south of Grand Island into the main harbor. Improvements to the front range light in 2018 resulted in the light of the rear range tower no longer being needed. The tower still stands, but is no longer lit.
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.
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 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 in the area can only be seen by scuba diving or on a glass-bottom cruise boat, some are visible within the national lakeshore, particularly along the beach between Hurricane River Campground and the Au Sable Light Station. Please leave pieces of decking, wood and metal artifacts, and other shipwreck remains undisturbed where you find them.
Much of the shoreline of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore lies within the Alger Underwater Preserve, which ensures its further preservation.