Visit one of the oldest lighthouses in the Great Lakes area. Grand Traverse is also known as the Northport Lighthouse to locals.
The Grand Traverse Lighthouse is located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, which separates Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. It marks the Manitou passage. The first lighthouse at this location was built under the direction of President Millard Fillmore in 1850, and Congress appropriated $4,000 for the project along with almost 60 acres of public land. A keeper's house and kitchen were built soon after. The lighthouse had to be torn down a few years later, and a new one was built in the form of a 2 1/2 story building in 1858. It was built out of Milwaukee cream city brick, and the roof was slate. The Fog Signal Building was added close to the lighthouse in 1899. In 1900, the building was converted to a two-family home, and a kitchen was added in 1916. The new porch wings and modern electric wiring were added in 1952.
Improvements have continued through the years, but in 1972, the light tower was automated and no longer needed lightkeepers. It was opened to the public as a museum in 1986. There were many lighthouse keepers over the years, and the museum has a detailed list on display. Today, it is operated and maintained by the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. It is located within the Leelanau State Park, so a park pass is required for all visitors. The land surrounding Grand Traverse Lighthouse is grassy and has picnic tables, a boat used as a flower bed, and a stone sculpture made by one of the lightkeepers. The telescope and large playground are a big hit with kids. There is also a rocky path leading to the water's edge. The Fog Signal Building has some interactive items to try and some history to view with maps and photos. Climb up the tower to capture great views of the water from the deck. This is a fun landmark to see; bring your friends and family with you to Michigan's Grand Traverse Lighthouse.