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Whitefish Point Light


The Whitefish Point Light is arguably the most important light on Lake Superior. All vessels entering and leaving Lake Superior must pass by the light. It stands on the treacherous southern shoreline of Lake Superior known as the "Graveyard of the Great Lakes" in an area with more shipwrecks than any other area of the lake.

Construction on the first light began in 1847 and was first lit in 1849. It marks the point for course change for vessels heading from the southern coast of the lake to the Soo Locks. The Whitefish Point area has had more shipwrecks than any other area in Lake Superior, most notably, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975, whose story was sung in a ballad by Gordon Lightfoot the following year.

The original structure of the lighthouse was outfitted with Lewis lamps, and then upgraded to a Fourth Order Fresnel Lens. The current structure, while modern looking, is a Civil War relic. Built in 1861, the iron skeletal steel framework was designed to relieve stress caused by high winds.

In 1968, the light was replaced with a DCB-224 aerobeacon. Putting aside questions of nostalgia, aesthetics, or appreciation for the engineering of a bygone era (as exemplified by the Fresnel lens), this iteration of lighthouse illumination was itself incredibly effective. The station was automated in 1971.

The lighthouse is also home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which has many artifacts from numerous shipwrecks in the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve, including the bell from the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which was recovered from the wreck in 1995.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Whitefish Point Light

The Whitefish Point Lighthouse is the oldest operating light on Lake Superior.

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