White Rock Memorial Light

This light is located in a small town called White Rock, about halfway between Sanilac and Harbor Beach. This light was built as a private residence and as a memorial to the 1856 White Rock Lighthouse which was destroyed by fire in 1871. The other 54 businesses in the town of White Rock were also destroyed by the fire. White Rock was the largest town in the territory in 1776 and was a busy port prior to the 1871 fire. This light is not a replica of that original light, but is similar in design.

White Rock is a tiny unincorporated community of Sherman Township at the southeast corner of Huron County in Michigan. The community is at the mouth of White Rock Creek on the shore of Lake Huron. The community is about three miles north of Forestville and about nine miles south of Harbor Beach on M-25 at the junction with White Rock Road.

The community is named for a large white boulder offshore in Lake Huron that was used as a boundary marker to define the territory ceded by Ottawa, Chippewa, Wyandot, and Pottawatomie with the Treaty of Detroit in 1807. The boundary definition in the treaty began with the "mouth of the Miami river of the lakes" or what is now known as the Maumee River at Toledo, Ohio. From there the boundary ran up the middle of the river to the mouth of the Auglaize River at what is now Defiance, Ohio, then due north until it intersected a parallel of latitude at the outlet of Lake Huron into the St. Clair River. This north-south line would become the Michigan Meridian used in surveying of Michigan lands. The intersecting parallel of latitude crossed the meridian at the northeast corner of what is now Sciota Township in Shiawassee County in the middle of the border with Clinton County. From this point the treaty boundary ran northeast to White Rock in Lake Huron, then due east to the international boundary with what was then Upper Canada, and then along the international boundary through the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and then into Lake Erie to a point due east of the mouth of the Maumee River, and finally west back to the point of beginning.

Edward Petit, the first white settler in Huron County, opened a trading post on nearby Shebeon Creek and later moved the post to White Rock. It is labeled as "White Rock City" on some early maps. By the mid-1830s, it was a thriving village and gained its own post office in 1859.

The community was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871, also known as the Port Huron Fire of 1871, and which destroyed huge swaths in several portions of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, but was overshadowed by the Great Chicago Fire and Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin which occurred on the same day). The town soon rebuilt, but never grew beyond a small community.

Fire in the Midwest - October 8, 1871
A deadly fire spread that night through the states of Michigan and Wisconsin. Vast tracts of forest burned for a week. When the wind increased and shifted direction, fire fighters were unable to control the flames any longer.

Many of the towns in the Midwest were built from the surrounding woods. Within hours, several cities and towns, including Peshtigo, Holland, Manistee and Port Huron burned to the ground. At least 1,200 people died as a result of the fire. Nearly half the fatalities occurred in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. That same night, the Great Chicago Fire erupted in nearby Illinois.

Click on images to enlarge

Photographs by Theresa Graham

2010 photos by Dave Wobser

Road side view

Rear view

Location: White Rock. Michigan
Date Built: 1996
Active: No

Open to

No. Private residence


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