|It houses the original 3.5
Order Fresnel lens, made in Paris, France. Originally lighted by kerosene,
the lantern consists of a fixed white light set in a series of eight prisms
in a central drum of lenses. The kerosene wicks made the light visible
from 16 miles out into Lake Huron. The light flashed on and off at spaced
intervals by a timing device wound by the keeper. Today’s fully automated
light is powered by solar charged batteries.
The lighthouse keeper’s home
is connected to the tower through an 11-foot passageway, which allowed
the keeper to tend the light without going outside in inclement weather.
The residence includes eight rooms in the two-story dwelling.
In 1915, with the formation
of the U.S. Coast Guard, Sturgeon Point became a Coast Guard station. The
lighthouse was wired for electricity in 1939 and its last personnel left
in 1941. Other Coast Guard buildings at the site were subsequently destroyed.
The lighthouse itself survived, but was severely vandalized.
In 1982, the Alcona County
Historical Society began a three-year restoration project, which included
painting and restoration of the light keeper’s house interior and painting
and repair to the remaining outlying buildings. Virtually all of the work
was done by volunteers. The home, of masonry construction with a limestone
foundation, is furnished with furniture and items from the time of its
operation. Its second story houses a large collection of historical documents,
artifacts and photos.
In 2005, the historical society
obtained ownership of the lighthouse and grounds through an agreement with
the U.S. Coast Guard and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources,
subject to removal of soil contaminated with lead paint chips from the
original tower paint by the state. That work is expected to occur this
Even in 1877 tours of the
lighthouse tower were a popular Sunday afternoon activity. So much so,
the lighthouse keeper posted a notice stating that no more Sunday afternoon
tours would be allowed in the tower. Fortunately, this is not true today.
The tower is open for tours on the weekend during the summer.
If visitors hold their ear
to the lighthouse’s tower, they may very well hear the echoes of local
legend. The legend holds that a Native American fell inside the tower catching
his foot on the cast iron circular stair case. Hanging himself upside down,
he died and his soul entered the staircase’s suspension pole. Sometimes
visitors can still hear his cries for help. Whether the legend is true
remains open to question, but it makes for a scary tale told at the foot
of the lighthouse on a foggy night.
The lighthouse and its surrounding
grounds are a great place to visit. The lighthouse is a sight to behold
and rightfully catches the eye of many artists and photographers. In addition
to picnic tables and benches, the grounds host several large nautical artifacts
with informational placards.
Depending on seasonal water
levels, visitors can walk onto Sturgeon Point for several hundred feet.
Miles and miles of beach invite adventurers to explore the natural habitat
of the Lake Huron shoreline. In addition to several varieties of sea grasses,
primrose, goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, wild strawberry and yarrow abound.
For animal enthusiasts, several types of gulls, cormorant, killdeer, loons
and an occasional bald eagle can generally be spotted.
With over a century old tradition
of helping water and land lovers find their way to Alcona County, Sturgeon
Point Lighthouse is a visit long remembered.