Tawas Point (Ottawa Point) Light

Located in the Saginaw Bay at the northwestern entrance to the bay this light was important to development of transportation on Lake Huron. The first light was established in 1853 Shifting sands moved the shore line more than a mile out into the lake making it necessary to build a new light in 1876.

The new 67-foot brick tower and attached keepers quarters stand today as an active aid to navigation maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Tawas Point light has guided mariners using a Fourth Order Fresnel lens.

2016 Update

Tawas Point Lighthouse to be turned off in September

8/7/16 - Cleveland, Ohio  The U.S. Coast Guard is alerting boaters of a change coming to the Tawas Point Lighthouse navigational aid in East Tawas, Michigan, in September.

The U. S. Coast Guard will be turning off the light inside the Tawas Point Lighthouse and activating a new lighted aid to navigation about 3,000 feet away at Tawas Point where the fog signal is located, providing better visibility to mariners.

In addition to the new location, the light characteristic will change from an occulting white light that appears red from some areas, called red sectors, to an all-around white light that flashes every four seconds. The GPS position of the new light is 44-14.9040N, 083-27.5477W.

The current light is housed inside a fourth-order Fresnel lens that was installed in the lighthouse in 1901. Lighthouse keepers turned it on and off daily until it was automated in the 1950s. Fresnel lenses are now antiquated, subject to environmental damage and difficult and costly to maintain so the Coast Guard is replacing them with modern aids to navigation.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which owns Tawas Point Lighthouse and the property it sits on, has submitted an application to allow the Fresnel lens to remain unlit inside the lighthouse as a museum display. The application is currently under review by the Coast Guard curator.

The date of the change is based on weather and availability of Coast Guard aids-to-navigation teams, but it is expected to happen some time during the month September. When the change occurs, Coast Guard Sector Detroit will broadcast it over VHF-FM marine radio for two weeks.

U. S. Coast Guard


Photograph by John Meyland


Tawas City, MI.
Established: 1853
Date existing light built: 1876
Active: Yes

Open to public:


Located in Tawas Point State Park at the end of Tawas Point Road off US 23.
Grounds are open to the public, tower by appointment.
Click here for map

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