Thunder Bay Island Light

Oct. 22, 2019

Thunder Bay Island Light, Thunder Bay Island, Lake Huron, Michigan

Built in 1832.


Location: Southeast end of 215 acre Thunder Bay Island/ State of Michigan/ Lake Huron/Alpena County
Historic Tower:
Date Built: 1832.
Date Light first lit: 1832
Date Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: Dressed stone and timber
Construction Materials: Brick
Tower Height: Originally 40 feet, raised 10 feet higher in 1857
Markings: White with red lantern
Relationship to other structures: linked by a covered walkway to keeper’s quarters
Builder: Jeremiah Moors
Original Lens: Fourth Order Fresnel, manufactured by Sauttier of Paris
Status: Operational, Automated in 1983

Historical Information:

1831 - Construction began in 1831 but the first tower fell and a 40 foot tower was begun and completed in 1832 with a detached 1 ½ story keeper’s dwelling.
1832 - The first keeper took office and the light began operation.
1847 - A new keeper’s dwelling was constructed.
1857 - The lighthouse was rebuilt and raised to 50 feet tall and equipped with a Fresnel lens. The focal plane was increased to 63 feet above the lake level.
1858 - A fog signal bell was installed.
1868 – Attached lighthouse keeper’s quarters was constructed of yellow brick.
1872 - Steam fog whistle and building constructed.
1876 - Life Saving Station opened on the island and manned by the US Lighthouse Service until 1939.
1884 - A storm house was added to the keeper’s quarters and a tramway constructed for delivery of coal to the fog signal building.
1892 - A new landing dock was built for the lighthouse.
1894 - A second fog signal was installed.
1903 - A brick oil house was constructed.
1907 - A brick fog signal building was constructed and the wooden cistern replaced with a brick cistern.
1913 - The lighthouse lamp was converted from kerosene to oil vapor fuel.
1916 - The old fog signal building was converted into a residence for the assistant keeper and family.
1921 - A Type C diaphone fog signal was installed.
1927 - A radio station building was constructed near the fog signal building.
1932 - A Type F diaphone fog signal was installed. Additions were made to the Second Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s dwelling and an addition made to the fog signal building for fuel storage.
1938 - The lighthouse received a coating of cement.
1939 - US Coast Guard took over operation of the lighthouse.
1980 - The lighthouse was automated through installation of a 190 mm acrylic optic in the lantern powered by solar cells on the ground and storage batteries in the tower. The station then closed.
1984 - The lighthouse was designated a historic site in the National Register of Historic Places.
1997 – The Thunder Bay Island Preservation Society was formed and signed an agreement with the US Coast Guard for responsibility of the lighthouse grounds and buildings.
Current – The Thunder Bay Island Preservation Society is involved with restoration of the light station.


  • Joseph Duchene (1832)
  • Jesse Muncey (1832-1843 appx.)
  • William Terry (1843-1845)
  • J. Malden (1845-1860)
  • Daniel Carter (1860-1861)
  • A Persons (1861-1873)
  • Patrick McGuire (1874-1882)
  • John Sinclair, Jr. (1882-1894)
  • Michael Cooney (1894-1901)
  • \William Bennetts (1902-1919 appx.)
  • Paul Klebba (1919-1928 appx.)
  • Archebald Davidson (1929-1930)
  • William DeRusha (1932-1939)
  • Mathew Storback (1939-1940 appx.)

Researched and written by Ed Shaw, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.