Fall in Love with Michigan Lighthouses

Lighthouses in Michigan are the stars of the shore. Today, guest blogger Sharma Krauskopf tells us the story of how she fell in love with Michigan lighthouses

I am fascinated with lighthouses and here’s why – Lighthouse Digest. For the last 20 years, I have been writing books and magazine articles and speaking about lighthouses. I also lead tours, have lived in a lighthouse in Scotland, and now am making a movie about lighthouse keepers. I have been living in Michigan for over 30 years but hadn’t been involved Michigan lighthouse to any great extent. People have a tendency to not be a tourist in their own neck of the woods, and I guess I’m a good example.

A few years ago that began to change. Due to health issues and family responsibilities my ability to travel long distances to lighthouses came to a screeching halt. What happened next I call the “tugboat effect,” named after an antique wind-up tugboat toy we had that took off across the floor until it ran into an obstacle which caused it immediately to turned in another direction. Like the tugboat, I instantly changed directions by looking closer to home where I found Point aux Barques Lighthouse for my movie.

Recently, my husband and I took a trip to see the Saginaw River Range lighthouse only to find a sign saying “Closed to the Public”. Remembering the tugboat, we changed direction promptly traveling further north to Tawas Point Lighthouse located near East Tawas, Michigan. This magnificent lighthouse and its well maintained park have belonged to Michigan DNR since 2001. Having seen and written about hundreds of lighthouses, I can guarantee this is an extraordinary one. Being that it was the off-season, there were few people around and it was like we were living at the lighthouse. We found a motel in Tawas City so we could be at the lighthouse for sunrise the next morning which turned out to be a good decision as we got some beautiful pictures.

Upon returning home, I discovered the Lightkeeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse program. Having lived at a lighthouse for many years, I know how much fun, adventure, and beauty the job involves, and I have already submitted our application for next year. If you live in Michigan hopefully you’ll remember this blog. If circumstances dictate you can’t travel far, remember the tugboat. I don’t regret my international travel, but I do feel badly that I had not seen more of my home state when I was younger. I should have jumped in the car and experienced all the beauty, history and entertainment that was just down the road.

Sharma Krauskopf lives on a farm near Parma, Michigan. For many years, she and her husband owned Eshaness Lighthouse on the Shetland Islands in Scotland. Currently she is executive producer of a feature length motion picture about lighthouse keepers which will be filmed in the fall of 2014 at Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse in the Thumb area of Michigan. For more information on her movie, check out the website. 

Do you have a favorite Michigan lighthouse? Tell us in the comments below. 

Beauty and History at the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival

Michigan lighthouses bring history, beauty, and uniqueness to our coastline. Each year, visitors can take an in-depth tour of some of these lighthouses at the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival. This year’s festival will be held October 10th- 13th in Alpena, MI. Guest blogger Peggy Allen of the Michigan Historical Center walks us through what visitors can expect at the upcoming festival. 

Visiting the coastline of Lake Huron, stopping at a Michigan state park, fond memories can be made so easily.

Although modern navigational technology has made lighthouses nearly obsolete, some still do serve as a guiding light for ships on the Great Lakes. More than 115 lighthouses dot Michigan’s Great Lakes coastline providing unique opportunities for visitors to learn about our maritime history.

Tawas Lighthouse Tawas Point State Park and Lighthouse in East Tawas invites you to experience the sights of Michigan.  This fall, Oct. 10-13, brings the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival to the sunrise side of Michigan.  Visitors can explore many lighthouses from short to tall, white to stripes, all found along the great Lake Huron up to the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

Headquarters for the 18th Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival is in Alpena.  At the APLEX Event Center there will be over 100 maritime vendors, artists, authors and more.  This half-way point allows you to rest up, listen to presenters and talk with other lighthouse enthusiasts.  There is plenty to do and see for every family member.

When traveling north on US-23 your autumn view is spectacular with painted foliage and pristine water guiding your way past several historic lighthouses.

Stopping at Tawas Point is a highlight. The land curves out into the blue water as the lighthouse nestles between Lake Huron and Tawas Bay.  This allows a majestic view of Michigan’s sunrises and sunsets with plenty of wildlife along the way.

This festival is the only time during the year that visitors will be able to tour the Guest Keeper Quarters above the museum.  Guest Keepers themselves will be able to show you around the entire lighthouse and give you the inside scoop on staying in the lighthouse and becoming a guest keeper yourself.

Tawas LighthouseEntering the park, Tawas Point Lighthouse will guide your way.  The gift store is an historical landmark itself and was built in 1906. There you can purchase unique souvenirs to mark your visit, as well as your ticket into the lighthouse.

At the lighthouse itself, you will experience the history that helped make Michigan. You can learn about past keepers, their family life, the trials of keeping the light burning and reasons why there are so many lighthouses on the Great Lakes. You are welcome to walk in and explore the space, where you can touch as well as look as you learn about life at the lighthouse.

Tawas LighthouseYou may also climb the 85 steps up to the lens room and see the original 4th order Fresnel lens that still guides ships today.  The 360-degree view from the top reveals the beauty of this point. The significance of our lighthouses in years past can be discovered over many visits – the importance of keeping lighthouses in our future can be found in just one.

For more information on the Tawas Point Lighthouse, including tours, the lightkeeper program and upcoming events, go to www.michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse.

Peggy Allen of the Michigan Historical Center has been the caregiver to the Tawas Point Lighthouse and grounds for the past decade. She works to renovate, up-keep and introduce many events and opportunities for guests to experience the many facets of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park.  

Will you be at this year’s Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival? Let us know!

Marion’s Dairy Bar: Ice Cream on the Sunrise Side

Ice Cream Sunday - Photo Credit - Marion's Facebook page

Michigan Ice Cream Treats at Marion's

It’s National Ice Cream Month, and what better way to celebrate on a HOT summer day than to read about a great ice cream parlor in Michigan, and then head out for an ice cream cone of your own! Guest Blogger Tim Chilcote shares the memory of a trip on the sunrise side of Michigan.

Next time you’re on Michigan’s sunrise side, grab an ice cream cone at Marion’s Dairy Bar and take a walk along the East Tawas State Dock. In fact, make a special trip—eating ice cream along Tawas Bay is a favorite pastime of locals and tourists, and reason enough to visit the Lake Huron coast.

Marion's Ice Cream Parlor in Michigan - Photo credit - Tim Chilcote

Marion's Ice Cream Parlor in Michigan

Continue reading