Little Traverse Lighthouse

Harbor Springs, Michigan - 1884 (1884**)

Photo of the Little Traverse Lighthouse.

History of the Little Traverse Lighthouse

Initial talks for a lighthouse at Little Traverse Bay started in the 1850s, but it would be the 1870s before a formal request was may to Commerce Committee. The Lighthouse Board appropriated $15,000 on the 1873 budget for the Little Traverse Lighthouse, but that money would never be realized. With people and companies moving to the Harbor Springs / Little Traverse area at an unprecedented rate, shipping traffic exploded in the Bay. Once again, a lighthouse was recommended for Little Traverse Bay. This time, the money would be approved for the lighthouse.

Construction of the lighthouse started in May of 1884. The design is an exact duplicate of the Sherwood Point Lighthouse in Door County Wisconsin which was built the year before. By mid-September, construction was complete. The light was first exhibited on September 25 by the station's first keeper, Elizabeth Whitney Williams. The lighthouse was a 1.5 story brick dwelling with an attached tower. The tower was fitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens which cast a light 13 miles into the Bay.

The station experienced some upgrades in the mid to late 1890s. In June of 1896, a fog signal was built at the station. It consisted of an open tower to hold the bell, and a Steven's automation system to strike it when the weather deemed it necessary. Another upgrade to the station consisted of an external oil shed. This coincided with the change over from lard and sperm oil to kerosene.

In 1963, the tower was decommissioned. Instead of automating the lighthouse, a new steel skeleton tower was erected in the area. This new tower took over duties displaying the light each night. The lighthouse was sold to the private gated Harbor Springs community in which it sits.

Note: The lighthouse is private property, please respect the owner's privacy and do not trespass.

Directions: From Route 119 in Harbor Springs, take Zoll Street south to Beach Drive. From here, you can see the Little Traverse Lighthouse. Since this lighthouse sits on the grounds of a private gated community, this is about the best area for viewing if you don't have a boat.

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Tower Information
Tower Height: 41.00'
Focal Plane: 41'
Active Aid to Navigation: Deactivated (1963)
*Latitude: 45.41800 N
*Longitude: -84.97800 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.