Maritime Sites

Authentic lifeboat in the boathouse on Sand Point
An authentic lifeboat and other exhibits from the Coast Guard era are on display in the historic boathouse on Sand Point near park headquarters. Open summer only.

NPS photo

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.

 
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
The Au Sable Light Station and Lighthouse is the park's main historic area, located at Au Sable Point. Drive 12 miles west of Grand Marais on Alger County Road H-58 to the lower Hurricane River Campground day-use parking area; then walk 1.5 miles on the lighthouse access road, which begins on the east side of the campground. Tours are available for a fee during summer.

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.
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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
This historic building is located at the end of 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. There are no public exhibits inside the building. However the nearby former Coast Guard boathouse contains a small free museum of lifesaving equipment and interpretive exhibits that is open to the public during the summer months.

 
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 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 above the lake. Range lights in pairs help ships navigate channels and find safe passage to bays and harbors by lining up the front and rear lights visually from a distance.

The National Park Service acquired the property from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2002. The former keeper's quarters was restored to its original 1908 appearance in 2011. This historic building now serves as offices for the park's Science and Resource Stewardship Division. The building and associated tower are not open to the public.

 
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, slighly up on the forested hillside.

The steel tower, which is much shorter than the front range light, is 33 feet tall. However, the tower's light was 107 feet above lake level. Ships lined up this higher rear light with the lower front one to find the safest course, or "range line," through the narrow passage east and south of Grand Island into Munising Bay. The red lights could be seen 19 miles out in the lake.

Improvements to the front range light in 2018 resulted in the light of the rear tower no longer being needed. The tower still stands, but is no longer lit.

 
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. The ranger station is not open to the public.
 
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 west of Au Sable Light Station

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 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.

 

Last updated: December 15, 2022

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 40
Munising , MI 49862

Phone:

906-387-3700
Munising Falls Visitor Center

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