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Point Iroquois Lighthouse


Point Iroquois Light Station is located along the scenic Lake Superior shore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is only about 50 miles east of Paradise and Tahquamenon Falls. From birch bark canoes to giant ore freighters, this unique point of land has influenced travel for centuries. The lightstation stands high above the waters of Lake Superior at the entry to St. Mary's River. It served passing sailors by marking the narrow channel.

The name Point Iroquois references a battle that took place in 1662 between the local Ojibwa (also known as the Chippewa or Anishinaabeg) and an invading Iroquois war party. The Iroquois had invaded the area in an attempt to gain influence and dominate the fur trade, but the Ojibwa were able to defeat the Iroquois war party, thus halting their westward expansion. According to the Indian agent of scholar, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, the Ojibwa called Point Iroquois " Nau-do-we-e-gun-ing", which in their native language means "Place of Iroquois Bones."

In 1620, the first white men to the area were French explorers Brule and Grenoble. From that time, Point Iroquois became a familiar landmark for the French explorers, fur traders, and the missionaries who were to follow. Nearby Sault Saint Marie was the first white settlement in what was later to become Michigan.

The discovery of copper and iron ore in 1844 necessitated a passage for ore-carrying vessels through the rapids of St. Mary's River to the steel plants of the lower Great Lakes. In 1865, the St. Mary's Falls Canal (commonly known as the Soo Locks) was opened. The locks have since become the most heavily used commercial shipping canal in the world.

The first lighthouse and its keepers residence were built in 1855, and the light was exhibited for the first time on September 20, 1857. With the growth of traffic through the locks, the importance of the lightstation increased. In 1870 the wooden tower and residence were replaced with the brick buildings that stand today. The tower is 65 feet high. After 107 years of service, the light at Point Iroquois became history when it was replaced by an automatic light in the channel off Gros Cap, Ontario. In 1975, The Point Iroquois Lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Climb the spiral staircase to the top of the 65-foot light tower. Observe the beauty of Michigan, of Canada, of the lake and the ocean-going freighters plying the river and Lake Superior as they come and go through the busy Soo Locks. During the summer months, interpretive programs are periodically provided on site to tell the history of the lighthouse and other related topics. Visit with the volunteer hosts in the museum to learn more about life as it once was in a lighthouse on Lake Superior.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Point Iroquois Lighthouse marks the entrance to St. Mary’s River and the busy Soo Locks, linking Lake Superior with the rest of the Great Lakes.

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