South Manitou Island Lighthouse Endangered by Erosion

A monumental effort underway to save this lighthouse on an island in Lake Michigan.               

Two winters of heavy erosion have brought the water dangerously close.

The National Park Service says they noticed the erosion along the South Manitou Island Lighthouse two winters ago.

When they went back to the island this spring nearly 100 feet of shoreline was gone.

The lighthouse hasn’t been in operation since the 50’s but is still a major draw to the park and the island.

That’s why Sleeping Bear Dunes says they plan to spend a $1 million to protect this historic beacon of light.

These pictures tell the story of a race against Mother Nature, shoreline inching dangerously close to the iconic South Manitou Lighthouse

“Funding is of limited availability, so we have completely reorganized our fee spending plan and secured roughly $1 million dollars for construction that will unfortunately only provide about 250 feet of shoreline protection for us, so we are focusing on the area of greatest concern which would be to protect the fog signal and light house,” said Lee Jameson, Facility Manager at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

There will still be 600 feet of shoreline that need attention, but without taking this first step things could only get worse.

“It is a nationally significant structure it’s part of a maritime district, it’s certainly an iconic structure to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as well as many of the residents who live here,” noted Jameson.

People in Empire say the lighthouse is one of the biggest attractions that bring people to the area.

“Last year there was 1.5 million people visited the park and it’s basically thought in the terms of gas, lodging, they spent somewhere in the term of $160 million. Just the fact that they’re improving something, maintaining it and keeping it for future generations alone is well worth the investment,” said Paul Skinner of the Empire Chamber of Commerce.

 The park says their best case scenario is to have work started by the fall. 

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