McGulpin Point Lighthouse
Virtual brochure and information for McGulpin Point Lighthouse, one of many online travel brochures for tourist information in Mackinaw City, MI. Provided by your source for Mackinaw Information and Mackinac Information.
McGulpin Point Lighthouse
Open from May to October, always free admission. Located on the Straits of Mackinac in Emmet County, Michigan.
The Story Behind the "Big Rock"
It was described in a letter sent back to France in 1749 as being at times high and dry and at other times completely covered by water.
That led the letter-writer to conclude the Straits of Mackinac rose and fell by as much as 8 feet over periods of time.
The McGulpin Point rock is approximately 33.8 feet in horizontal circumference and 37 feet in vertical circumference. It is about 9 feet tall. An estimate of its weight is 54 tons.
It is known as ‘Chi-Sin’ (“big rock”) in the native Odawa language.
Go online for more history and event information: www.emmetcounty.org/mcgulpin/
Historic Site Interpretation
Navigating To Today
Growing Need for a
The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 spurred growth in cities like Chicago and Milwaukee, resulting in growing vessel traf-fic through the Straits of Mackinac.
By the early 1850s, McGulpin Point was seen as a crucial lighthouse site.
Though the Straits’ eastern and western entries were covered by the Bois Blanc and Waugoshance lights, there was no navigational aid in the shoal-ridden Straits. Congress appropriated funds for a lighthouse in 1854, construction began in 1868.
McGulpin Point was one of five on Lake Michi-gan and Lake Superior that were almost mirror images. In a style referred to as Norman Gothic, the structure was built with Cream City brick, made from clay found near Milwaukee and favored by the U.S. Lighthouse Board, with buttressed corners and octagonal tower.
Private to Public
We have the story to tell today thanks to the meticulous record-keeping of the longest serving lightkeeper at McGulpin Point, James Davenport. Davenport occupied the lighthouse during the navigation seasons of 1879-1906. During the winter months, when the Straits were impassible by ships, he would return to his home in Mackinaw City so the children could attend school. Still, he made weekly trips to the lighthouse to write reports to the district inspector in Milwaukee on the condition of the lake ice and the property.
Today, Davenport’s voluminous correspondence resides in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
From Mackinaw City
From Southern Emmet
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