Photographer: Keith W. Churill

Photographer: Keith W. Churill

Here we see the Rear Range light with the Lightkeeper's dwelling, now a museum, in the background.


Grand Marais Range Lights

Grand Marais, Michigan

Front Range

Built :  1898

Construction :  Steel pyramidal / skeletal

Height : 34 feet

Status : Active, Public Access

Rear Range

Built :  1898

Construction :  Steel pyramidal / skeletal

Height : 47 feet

Status : Active, Public Access

Location : Entrance to Grand Marais Harbor.

Access : Car, with parking near the lights and Museum. Once in Grand Marais at junction M-77, H-58 and County Rd 702, turn Northeast on CR-702. This will take you to the Museum and the lights.

Coast Guard Lifesaving Station

Station :  #296

Established :  1895

Date of Conveyance : 1897

Built : 1899

Location : West side entrance channel, 1/3 mile south of Front Range light.

Status : Inactive / Ranger Station / Museum

History : Located near the beautiful Pictured Rocks National Park, Grand Marais' West Bay is the only deep water place of refuge from White Fish Point to Munising. This made Grand Marais' harbor strategically important for shipping on Lake Superior during the 1800's, especially for vessels needing a harbor of refuge during the sometimes violent storms on Lake Superior. Named by French voyageurs in the 1600's, the name Grand Marais literally translates to "the Great Marsh", though there is no marsh nearby. Some early French maps have this harbor of refuge shown as "le Grand Mare" meaning a safe harbor. It is possible that over the years Marais came to be through a map makers error and it's repetition.

In 1872, a breakwater was constructed in the harbor to further it's protection from Lake Superior.

The Front Range light was constructed on the long stone breakwater in 1895 with it's skeletal steel tower standing 34 feet tall on a pier foundation. It's beacon, with a lens focal plane of 40 feet above lake level, produces a flashing white display every 2.5 seconds with a visibility range of 15 miles. The Front Range also houses a fog horn.

The second Rear Range light was constructed in 1898 with it's skeletal steel tower standing 47 feet tall on a pier foundation at a distance of 2,610 feet from the Front Range light. It's beacon, with a lens focal plane of 54 feet above lake level, produces a flashing white display every 4 seconds with a visibility range of 15 miles.

In 1899, the U.S. Coast Guard established a very important Lifesaving Station here. A notable rescue was carried out from this station on November 14, 1919. The Lifesaving, crew along with 4 civilians (Joseph Graham, Ambrose Graham, Ora Endress, and James MacDonald), set out to rescue the crew of the stranded steamer H.E. RUNNELS. Heavy snow, monstrous waves and ice covering the decks on the steamer made this a very hazardous rescue. The high seas had washed some of the rescuers out of the lifesaving boat in the process but no lives were lost. All 17 crew members from the steamer were rescued. On June 3, 1920, John O. Anderson, Alfred E. Kristofferson, Leon E. Alford, George Olsen, Glen Wells, Edward J. Spencer, Russell Martin, William Campbell and Joseph G. McShea were all awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal for their bravery.                          ( image courtesy of: U.S. Coast Guard )

 The lifesaving station was replaced with a new Coast Guard Station in 1940. Still standing, it is now a Ranger Station for the Pictured Rocks National Park and a Maritime Museum. This museum is home to the original Third Order Fresnel Lens for the nearby Au Sable Point Light

Photographer: Keith W. Churill

A view of the Grand Marai Harbor

The Lighthouse Keepers Museum on Coast Guard Point is maintained by the Grand Marais Historical Society.  The museum is within the restored lighthouse keeper's dwelling, open daily 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Tuesday through Sunday) from July through August. In June and September, the museum is open on weekends only.  Private tours are available by appointment.  Admission is free, donations are accepted and appreciated!

 For more information, contact the Grand Marais Historical Society at (906) 494-2306.


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