Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse

Bois Blanc Island, Michigan - 1867 (1829**)

Photo of the Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse.

History of the Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse

Dennis Kent has provided a little bit of history on this lighthouse.

The pronunciation of this light and the island on which it is located is "Bob Low." It seems too many Americans couldn't say the French. Mackinac Island ( pronounced "Mack In Awe") sits at the narrow straits that connect Lakes Michigan and Huron. This busy waterway has seen the ebb and flow of commerce between Chicago and ports of call on Lake Michigan to the markets of the East coast and beyond for centuries. Lumber on Bois Blanc was used for ship masts and firewood to power ships and industry. It was transported to the convenient port on Mackinac Island. Bois Blanc was the second lighthouse on Lake Huron so it could guide ships around this long island and to the near by Mackinac.

The original light was built in 1829 on a peninsula that juts out into the lake. This tower met a dramatic end on December 9, 1837. The Keeper was on Macinac Island on official business leaving his daughter, Emily to tend to the light. A violent winter storm blew in before the Keeper could return. Emily risked her life to save the lighting equipment just minutes before the tower was reduced to rubble.

In 1839 a duplicate tower was built on higher ground and on a better protected spot. In 1857 the Lewis lamps were changed out to a Fourth Order Fresnel Lens. By 1866 a survey deemed this second lighthouse to be inadequate and falling apart. A third lighthouse was started in March of 1867. It was completed in the Fall and the lens transferred to the new tower and keepers quarters made of "cream city brick."

This light was made obsolete with the move of shipping to the other (south) side of the island and the Poe Reef light and Fourteen Foot Shoal light. In 1924 and automated acetylene light was installed on a steel tower and the old station was boarded up. It was sold into private hands in 1925. The owners have diligently restored it.

Directions: The lighthouse sits on the northern side of Bois Blanc Island. The lighthouse is privately owned, and therefore best viewed from the water. Shepler's Ferry Service offers lighthouse cruises that pass by the lighthouse.

View more Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse pictures
Tower Information
Tower Height: 38.00'
Focal Plane: 53'
Active Aid to Navigation: Deactivated (1924)
*Latitude: 45.81000 N
*Longitude: -84.42000 W
See this lighthouse on Google Maps.


* Please note that all GPS coordinates are approximated and are meant to put you in the vicinity of the lighthouse, not for navigation purposes.

** This year denotes a station date. This is the year that a lighthouse was first reported in the vicinity or at that location.

All photographs and information on this site is copyright © 2016 Bryan Penberthy unless otherwise specified. No content may be used without written permission. Any questions or comments, please email me.