The Lighthouse

Port Sanilac Light Station

Historic Village of Port Sanilac Michigan

This white brick lighthouse towers above the Lake Huron shoreline in the historic Village of Port Sanilac Michigan. The lighthouse has helped guide ships and other mariners throughout its entire existence to prevent them from getting lost or running aground along the Lake Huron shoreline. The lighthouse is privately owned and was purchased by the Shook’s in December 2014, it was in need of extensive repairs, since then it has been beautifully and extensively restored between 2015 to 2017. The property and lighthouse are closed to the public, however the owners have an arrangement with the Sanilac County Historical Society to provide limited tours during the summer months. Visitors are encouraged to visit the lighthouse from the sidewalk and other public viewing areas outside the fence.

lighthouse-pictures
DCIM100MEDIADJI_0080.JPG

The Tower

The tower is white with a black lantern room, the residence is a red brick. To distinguish the Port Sanilac Lighthouse from other regional lighthouses, its unique shaped hourglass tower was then painted white to make it stand out during the day, known as its “daymark” to distinguish it from other lights and the trees in the background.

The lighthouse was established and first lit on October 20th 1886. The Port Sanilac Light Station is known as a Fourth Order lighthouse, which means it is the most common size of the Fresnel Lens sizes on the Great Lakes for what was needed for range and distance that the light needed to be seen. The current LED Beacon Light flashes white every 2.5 seconds. The light can be seen for 14 nautical miles out to sea. The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners, but also to help identify their location at night. Like other lighthouses in Michigan, this one still serves as an aid to navigation. The beacon comes on automatically every evening at dusk and ceases at dawn.

Panoramic Views

When the lighthouse is open, visitors can climb the winding staircase, 50 steps in all, then up a ladder to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of the Port Sanilac Harbor and Lake Huron. Inside the base of the light tower is the Fourth Order Fresnel Lens on display from the keepers dwelling. At the tower base there is a small cupboard where the lightkeeper kept supplies and there are museum quality signage panels in the tower to learn about the history of the lighthouse, the Fresnel lens, shipwrecks and the lighthouse keepers.

tops-of-lighthouse

Changing The Fresnel Lens

September 13, 2016 was a historic one for the Port Sanilac Lighthouse. The Fresnel Lens installed in 1886 that guided mariners for 130 years was removed from the tower by the US Coast Guard and replaced with a multi-tier LED beacon light. The flash pattern or light characteristic changed from an incandescent bulb Flashing (3) Whites with a 10 second sequence as (1 second flash with a 1 second eclipse, then a second 1 second flash with a 1 second eclipse, then a third 1 second flash with a 5 second eclipse) to the LED of Flashing White every 2.5 seconds.
 
The Fresnel lens being a historic artifact as well as more maintenance for the USCG had to be removed and replaced with an LED light that only requires periodic maintenance and monitoring every 3 years. The lens was removed and a restoration process immediately begun to stabilize the litharge or the putty that helps keep the prisms in place was completed and the lens was thoroughly cleaned. A customer base was built for the lens and a plexiglass cover placed over top of it for protection. Then lens sits inside the keepers dwelling in front of a window so that when public tours are conducted, the lens is visible at the base of the tower.
 
The design of the Fresnel lens, invented in 1822, so far has still been a superior design that is being used in everything from navigational aids to automotive lighting, among many other uses. The technology hasn’t been surpassed yet. The video is of the day the lens was removed out of the tower, documenting it for all to see.

Can't Come Out In Person?

View photos of Port Saniliac's historic past renovations, removal of the Fresnal lens, and breathtaking panoramic views.

First Lighting Of Port Sanilac Light Station

The lighthouse was established and first lit on October 20th 1886. The Port Sanilac Light Station is known as a Fourth Order lighthouse, which means it is the most common size of the Fresnel Lens sizes on the Great Lakes for what was needed for range and distance that the light needed to be seen. The current LED Beacon Light flashes white every 2.5 seconds. The light can be seen for 14 nautical miles out to sea. The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners, but also to help identify their location at night. Like other lighthouses in Michigan, this one still serves as an aid to navigation. The beacon comes on automatically every evening at dusk and ceases at dawn.

P1320805 Notice TO Maritiners
Tower Paint Stripped

Port Sanilac Funding

The Port Sanilac Light Station receives no government or tax funding and tour dollars are used for maintenance of the lighthouse to preserve it for future generations. We encourage your visitation to our light and other lighthouses in the thumb. Lighthouses are in a continuous need of maintenance and if you can donate to their preservation, please do so by donating to the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy who manages three lighthouses in need of restoration.