Photographer: Jeffrey W. Churill

Photographer Below: Keith W. Churill, July 2000

Fort Gratiot

Fort Gratiot, MI

Built: 1825, 1829

Construction: Conical Brick

Status: Active (green flashing)

Height: 86 feet

Location: Port Huron, MI - Head of the St. Clair River and Lake Huron, just North of the Blue Water Bridge.

Access: This active U.S.G.C. station prohibits access around the lighthouse. You may receive permission from the watch on duty to get close to the lighthouse with a possible tour. Parking is recommended on the North side of the lighthouse at the public Lighthouse Park. The beach at the park is also good for viewing the lighthouse and ship traffic.

Lighthouse History: Originally constructed in 1825 this was the first lighthouse established in Michigan. The Lighthouse was constructed just north of Fort Gratiot. The fort was constructed in 1814 as an outpost to guard the juncture of the St. Clair River and Lake Huron. The fort was named after the engineer supervising it's construction. In September of 1828 the lighthouse was destroyed by a violent storm. The lighthouse was reconstructed by Lucius Lyon (one of Michigan's first U.S. Senator's) and operational in December of 1829. In 1861 the lighthouse was raised 20 feet to it's current height of 86 feet. In 1874 to 1875 the keepers house was built, large enough to house two families. The house has a hipped gable roof with a pointed gothic porch. In 1933 the lighthouse was automated by the Lighthouse Service with a green flashing light that was visible for seventeen miles. The light was green to guide sailors entering the St. Clair River to the port (left) side of the lighthouse. Coast Guardsmen are currently stationed at the oldest surviving lighthouse in Michigan with most of it's original equipment and architecture still in tact. The lighthouse is currently active in one of the busiest waterways in the world. The lighthouse is located at Garfield and Omar streets, Port Huron, MI 48060 (800) 852-4242 or (810) 982-3659, and can be toured.

Area Attractions: Located at the Southern most end of Lake Huron, near the city of Port Huron, there is much to see and do nearby. The Blue Water Bridge crosses the St. Clair River head into Canada at this point. A very nice riverside park overlooks the river and bridge just South of the lighthouse. This lake and river junction is one of the most challenging areas in the Great Lakes for Ships to traverse. It's quite a sight to see a thousand foot freighter maneuver the high currents and sharp bends in the river. This area is popular for scuba divers, drift diving the numerous shipwrecks throughout the first half mile of river bottom. 

Photo courtesy of: U.S. Coast Guard

Approximately one mile South of the Fort Gratiot lighthouse in Pine Grove Park is the once floating  Lightship Huron. The Huron lightship has a museum and can be toured.

Call (810) 982-0891 for museum information).

Left:

Fort Gratiot Coast Guard Station, May 8, 1987

Photo courtesy of: U.S. Coast Guard, PA1 Alan K. Burd

Right:

Here you can see the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in the center background. In the foreground is the FONTANA which sank in August of 1900.


 

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