Michigan, with its surrounding Great Lakes, holds a deep maritime history. And with its shoreline. Ludington boasts its very own maritime history. Two points of pride in that history are the long-standing, local lighthouses:
the Big Sable Point Lighthouse and the North Breakwater Lighthouse.
Big Sable Point Lighthouse
Built in 1867 and set 1.8 miles north of the Ludington Sate Park entrance, just a half-hour meander through the dunes, at over one hundred feet tall, this historically noble, black-and-white navigational beacon sits nestled among sand dunes and jack pines, and is a huge attraction for both visitors and locals alike. In its original form by 1899, it became apparent that action had to be taken to preserve then-deteriorating brick in the tower of the lighthouse, and the following year, the tower was encased in 18 metal cylinders. When the work was completed in June 1900, the metal tower was painted white with its middle third black marking it with its current Day Mark.
Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds, tour the original keeper’s quarters which have been converted into a gift shop, stroll along the sand dunes or climb the tower between 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. May 7-October 28. There are dates available, known as “Big Sable Bus Days,” that offer busing to the Lighthouse from the Ludington State Park parking lot on July 12 & 28, August 9 & 25, and September 22 ($5 for adults and $2 for children.)
The North Breakwater Lighthouse
The original 1870 lighthouse that once stood in the place now known as the North Breakwater Light consisted of a 30-foot-tall, wooden tower, painted white, that displayed a fixed red light using a fifth-order Fresnel lens. Commanding and exquisite in its new design, standing 57 feet tall, this proud structure was built in 1924 and was designed to break the rough waves that so easily turn up on Lake Michigan as the weather changes.
This light is open for tours and tower climbs from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. from May 25 through September 3 and boasts a vibrant green light from its tower. The Breakwater Light is at the end of a half-mile walk down the pier at Stearns Park Beach with a unqiue view of the channel and shoreline, and if your timing is just right, you may be able to wave to the equally impressive SS Badger Carferry.
*NOTE: There is a small fee to climb each of the lighthouses, to help maintain their upkeep and repair needs. The cost to climb each lighthouse is $5 for Adults and $2 for Children. A Michigan Recreation Passport is required to enter the Ludington State Park.