The first lighthouse in the state of Michigan was constructed In 1825 north of Fort Gratiot at the entrance to the St Clair River near Port Huron. The contract for the construction of the lighthouse and keeper’s dwelling was awarded to Captain Winslow Lewis of Massachusetts. Lewis was the inventor of the patented Lewis lamp, Which was universally adopted as the primary source of illumination in the nation’s growing inventory of lighthouses. Lewis sub-contracted the construction of the tower and keeper’s dwelling that would become known as the “Fort Gratiot Light” to Daniel Warren of Rochester, New York.
it became quickly apparent that the structure was both poorly designed and constructed. George McDougall, was selected as the light’s first official keeper. McDougall’s reports indicated that the stairs were so steep that they had to be climbed sideways, and the trapdoor into the lantern room was barely large enough for a man to squeeze through, but he was a short man with a weight in excess of 300 pounds, and as such hired an assistant to perform all of his tower work. Originally the tower was 32 feet tall. In 1861, after two additions, the tower reached its current height of 82 feet.
the tower was damaged during a storm in the fall of 1828, and later fell down. Congress reacted swiftly and appropriated $8,000 for a new tower in 1829. The new tower was 65 feet tall and 25′ in diameter and it was outfitted with the Lewis lamp system powered by whale oil, which was then the standard. The Lewis lamps were removed from Fort Gratiot in 1857, and the tower was refitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens, which had an intensity at least four times that of the old Lewis lamps
The Lighthouse was eventually upgraded to a modern electric lamp and is the oldest active lighthouse in Michigan.
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