Point Iroquois and its light near Brimley On Lake Superior mark the division line between Whitefish Bay and the western end of the St. Marys River. It was named for the Iroquois warriors massacred there by the Ojibwein 1662. Native Algonkians called the point “Nadouenigoning”, composed of the words “Nadone” (Iroquois) and “Akron” (bone).
In 1620, French explorers Étienne Brûlé and Grenoble became the first recorded white men to the area. “From that time, Point Iroquois became a familiar landmark” for French explorers, fur traders and missionaries who followed. Sault Ste. Marie was the first white settlement in what became known as Michigan.
In 1853 Congress, which had approved the construction of the first Soo Locks on the St. Mary’s River, and appropriated $5,000 for the construction of what would be the first lighthouse at Point Iroquois.In 1855-1856 the United States Lighthouse Board built a wood and rubble stone lighthouse at the Point; this aid to navigation commenced operations on June 18, 1856. The first Point Iroquois light was a 45-foot-tall rubble stone tower with a wooden lantern deck, outfitted with a flashing white fourth order Fresnel lens. Only eleven years after the first light went into operation, a government inspector was questioning the construction quality of the first light station and preparing the ground for its replacement.
In 1870, after the first lighthouse and keepers’ quarters building were torn down and the second and current Point Iroquois Light was constructed, this time at an estimated cost of $18,000. The present Cape Cod style white brick lighthouse was built and ran continuously for 93 years, guiding ships in and out of the Soo Locks. It has a 65-foot tower height.
In 1885, a bell tower was erected, which incorporated a Stevens automatic bell striking machine. In 1890, the bell tower was torn down, and a fog signal building was built with steam whistles installed. In 1926 they were replaced by Type F diaphone fog horns.
In 1905, a two-floor extension was added to the 1871 building, providing living space for another assistant keeper, bringing the staff to three Lighthouse keepers. At peak operation, the station was manned by a Head Keeper and two Assistant Keepers. The children of the keepers and local fisherman were enough to populate a local school on the grounds for a period.Other buildings on the site included: an assistant keeper’s quarters, fog signal building (now gone), three barns, a chicken house, boat house, oil house, outhouse and well house.
The station was deactivated in 1962, replaced by the Canadian operated Gros Cap Reefs Light, an unmanned buoy-type beacon in the St. Marys River channel.
In 1963, the original lens was sent to the Smithsonian Institution. Currently the lighthouse is now a museum and visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the tower, although the light is gone the view is spectacular.
I hope you will Subscribe to Lost In Michigan