Digest>Archives> December 2009

Remembering the Ghost Light at North Manitou Island

By Timothy Harrison


In the early 1800s, Michigan’s North Manitou Island was inhabited by settlers looking to establish a lumber industry, and, by the 1860s, there were nearly 300 people living on the island. By that time, as well as making their living from the logging industry, many of them made their living from farming.

North Manitou Island and its counterpart, South Manitou Island, soon became an important stopping point for early ships on Lake Michigan providing wood for the steamships along with food for their crews and passengers. South Manitou Island with its safe harbor provided shelter for many vessels in times of severe weather. As the areas importance grew, the federal government eventually established a presence in the area with the building of lighthouses and a life saving station.

Many of the tourists and lighthouse aficionados who visit Michigan are aware of the South Manitou Island Lighthouse, which was recently re-lighted, and many have even visited it by taking the ferry service provided by Manitou Island Transit. Many have also viewed the North Manitou Shoal Lighthouse, which is sits on a crib out in the water where lightships were once stationed. However, most are totally unaware of the Ghost Light that once stood on the 15,000-acre North Manitou Island. . .


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This story appeared in the December 2009 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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