By the late 1840s, the natural harbor at Ontonagon had become an important shipping point for copper and lumber. Nearby mines, including Minnesota, Mass and Victoria brought in men and supplies through Ontonagon.
The town of Ontonagon was the shipping point for copper from the Cliff Mine, the first successful copper mine in the area, and also became the point of entry for men and supplies into the Copper Country. It was one of the earliest communities on the Keweenaw Peninsula.
This light is located on the South bank of Ontonagon River in Ontonagon, Michigan. Built in 1866-67 at a cost of $14.000, the light replaced an 1852 light that had cost only $5,000, and was the fifth lighthouse erected on Lake Superior. The new yellow brick, 1-1/2 story residence has an attached 34-foot square tower on the west side. A black cast iron parapet surrounds the octagonal lantern room which has a black roof. The 1-story brick kitchen was added in 1890.
The station was retired in 1964 and the Fifth Order Fresnel lens was given to Ontonagon Historical Society.
The light is surrounded by private property of a paper mill. Tours are available through the Ontonagon County Historical Society, 233 River Street. Tours depart the museum via a van on a daily basis at 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. For more information, contact the OCHS museum at 906-884-6165 or visit the museum's website at www.ontonagonmuseum.org.
The museum is open during the summer months.
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