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- U.S. Lighthouses -

Little Sable Point Lighthouse

Standing between Lake Michigan and the windswept dunes behind, 10 miles south of Pentwater, Michigan, the Little Point Sable lighthouse towers 107 feet above the beach like a solitary exclamation mark.

In 1872, prompted by increasing lake commerce and local demand to light the darkened coastline, $35,000 was appropriated to build the lighthouse and a keeper's dwelling where the first keeper, James Davenport and his family, would reside. With no roads to the location construction was postponed until April, 1873, when docks and temporary workmen's quarters could be built. The Third Order Fresnel lens was first lit in the spring of 1874, a welcome relief to mariners who could see the light from 15 miles away. The three-wick, oil burning lamp was replaced by an incandescent oil vapor lamp in 1918. In 1954 electricity finally made its way to the area and the light was automated. At that time the Little Point Sable light was the last kerosene powered light on the Great Lakes. The last keeper, Henry Vavrina, the keeper since 1939, was transferred to Big Point Sable lighthouse and the keeper's quarters were demolished. The original Third Order Fresnel lens remains to this day.

In 1900 the tower was painted white after mariners complained that the natural red brick was too difficult to see during the daylight hours. Seventy-five years later the paint was sandblasted away, returning the tower to its original state.

The light was originally called "Petite Pointe au Sable Lighthouse" (Little Point of Sand), the name found on most of the official records. Today the National Park Service lists it as "Little Point Sable Light." Opened to the public in 2006 visitors can now, for a small fee, climb the 139 stairs for a panoramic view.






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This page last updated on  Friday, July 22, 2016
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