Point Iroquois Light Station is located along the scenic Lake Superior shore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is only 20 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie and 51 miles east of Tahquamenon Falls. From birch bark canoes to giant ore freighters, this unique point of land has influenced travel for centuries.
Our museum reveals the stories of the lightkeepers and their families through family album photographs, antiques, and artifacts. Learn about the fourth order Fresnel lens that could project a light for sixteen miles. Climb the 72 steps to the top of the tower for a picturesque view of Lake Superior. Observe the freighters traveling through Whitefish Bay as you walk along a cobblestone beach in search of agates. Browse through our book shop, which offers a wide selection of historical readings about the Great Lakes.
Step back in time and visit our west wing exhibit. The assistant keeper’s apartment is restored to the way it looked in the early 1950’s. Imagine the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls or the sounds of “Suspense Theater” on the radio as you walk through.
First lit in 1849, the Whitefish Point Light shares honors with the lighthouse at Copper Harbor for being the first lights on Lake Superior. It stands guard over the entrance to Whitefish Bay, sometimes the only shelter to be found for a ship trying to escape the fury of the lake, and is the oldest active light on Lake Superior.
Whitefish Point is known as the Graveyard of Ships as more vessels have been lost here than in any other part of the lake. Hundreds of vessels, including the famed Edmund Fitzgerald, lie on the bottom of the bay and the approaches. The lighthouse marks the end of an 80 mile stretch of shoreline known as Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast. This light has shined onto the big lake unfailingly for almost 150 years except for the night when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.
The Lake Superior coastline between Whitefish Point and Grand Island stands as one of the most beautiful stretches of shoreline in all of the Midwest. With pleasure boaters, tour boats and kayakers making their leisurely way along the coast to soak up the natural beauty. It is difficult to imagine that during the 1800’s this stretch of seemingly bucolic coastline was known to mariners as “The Shipwreck Coast,” with the hulks of innumerable vessels pushed onto the shore by violent storms out of the north, or lost in the pea soup fogs which frequently enveloped the area.
Since the early 1850’s, the Lighthouse Board had been working on establishing a series of Lights to guide mariners along this treacherous stretch, with Lights established at Whitefish Point in 1848, Grand Island in 1867, Big Sable Point in 1874, and Grand Marais in 1895. As further witness to the dangers represented by this stretch of coastline, Congress approved the establishment of four life saving stations between Vermilion and Deer Park on June 20, 1874, one of which was designated as Station Ten, and built at an unnamed point approximately fifteen miles west of Whitefish Point. Although David Grummond was appointed as the first keeper at life saving station 10, it would be Christopher Crisp who served as keeper from 1878 until 1890 who would have the most lasting impact on the area, as Crisp became so well known that the point on which the station was established would become forever known as “Crisp’s Point.”
Crisp Point Light will forever be remembered as a gem at the end of one of the most grueling drives we have ever undertaken. The first fifteen miles of the drive are on numbered County roads which are little more than groomed sand trails. The last five miles are on what appears to be nothing more than a logging trail.
As you progress, the trail gets progressively narrower and increasingly twisty, as the trail has to circumvent every tree that has grown in the path. We felt really fortunate that we never encountered a vehicle coming in the opposite direction, because we never remembered any place where there was sufficient room to pass! The road ended at the beach, with a half mile walk put us at the light.
This one of the most magnificently desolate locations we have visited, and other than Sue’s frequently glancing the edge of the woods for any sign of bears, remains in our minds as one of our top ten favorite lights.
Tours to DeTour Reef Light include boat transportation to and from Fort Drummond Marine on Drummond Island or DeTour Village, light refreshments on the lighthouse and a guided tour. Each tour is limited to six individuals, assuring personal attention by the tour guides. The tours are approximately two hours long. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour all spaces of the lighthouse. The tours are led by trained DRLPS tour guides and the resident DeTour Reef Lighthouse Keepers. (For information on the lighthouse keeper program, go to the Lighthouse Keeper Program page of this web site).
While access to the lighthouse from the tour boat involves climbing a twenty foot vertical ladder, visitors have commented that the full body safety harness and fall protection system (designed by DBI/SALA & Protecta, a world leader in fall protection systems) gave them great comfort and confidence as they ascended and descended the ladder. The system includes a self retracting safety life line that acts like a long seat belt retractor and would catch a climber within a few feet should they slip or let go of the ladder.
Tours will originate from either Drummond Island or DeTour Village and filled starting about 8:00, and then 10:00, then 1:00, and 3:00 last. When given a departure dock, date and time, please mark that information below and mail this reservation form with payment to DRLPS, PO Box 307, Drummond Island MI 49726. Phone and email reservations will be held for 7 days pending payment. Full refund if tour is cancelled due to weather or within 30 days of tour.