Portage River Light (Jacobsville Light), Lake Linden, Michigan
PORTAGE RIVER (JACOBSVILLE) LIGHT
PORTAGE RIVER ENTRANCE, LAKE SUPERIOR, MICHIGAN
Station Established: 1856
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1870
Foundation Materials: NATURAL/EMPLACED
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: CONICAL
Markings/Pattern: NATURAL WITH RED LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
Original Lens: FIFTH ORDER FRESNEL
The building of the locks in Sault Ste. Marie changed the shipping routes on Lake Superior. The need for a lighthouse on the Portage River was apparent. In 1855 construction began on a 39 foot stone tower and 1and a half story keeper’s quarters. The tower housed a fifth order Fresnel lens. The buildings were complete but failed inspection because they were not built according to the contract. In 1856, despite the fact the station had not been approved, the light was lit. It is unclear how the dispute was resolved as there are no further mentions of it in any historical record.
In 1868, major repairs were needed to the light station. It was deemed easier to rebuild the entire light station than to fix the problems with the existing one. A temporary structure was built to house the light while construction was taking place.
A new tower was built along with a keeper’s dwelling in 1870. The dwelling was a one and a half story house that attached to the tower by a covered walkway. The fifth order lens was removed from the temporary structure and placed in the new tower.
In 1919 construction began on Keweenaw Waterway light, a mile west of the Portage River light. When the light was lit in 1920, Portage River light was decommissioned. The light was transferred to the state of Michigan only to transfer back to the Coast Guard. It was eventually sold to private owners. It is not an aid to navigation and is currently used as a bed and breakfast inn.
Researched and written by Melissa Buckler, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.