Grosse Ile’s remaining lighthouse, the North Range Lighthouse, has breathtaking views of the Detroit River, freighters passing, and Canada across the way.
Your guide will take you up the beautiful spiral staircase and share the amazing history of the lighthouse.
Because the lighthouse is on private property and there is no parking in the immediate vicinity, tour participants will be taken to the site by bus. Participants will meet at the Custom House at the corner of Parkway and East River Road 15 minutes before their allotted tour time.
What: Tour the North Range Lighthouse
When: Sunday, September 10, 2023
Where: North Range Lighthouse (Grosse Ile, MI)
Time: Noon, 1:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
Info about the lighthouse from GIHS
The Grosse Ile Lighthouse was originally built in 1894 to point the way for ships on the Detroit River through the obstacle course of islands, shoals, and limestone outcroppings.
The lighthouse was subsequently rebuilt in 1906 and is the classic white structure we see today. The lighthouse stands 40 feet tall.
The octagonal white tower is beautiful; each face is sided with horizontal wood strips like clapboards on an old house. The lighthouse interior is paneled with tongue and groove varnished Michigan pine. A wooden circular staircase leads to the top observation area where the actual light was once installed.
A lighthouse keeper was originally assigned to the lighthouse and, in addition to keeping the light burning, he was responsible for cleaning and painting the lighthouse. Oil for the lighthouse lamps was stored in a metal structure near the lighthouse, as was a supply of glycerin which was used to clean the windows and keep them from freezing during the cold winter months.
The light in the lighthouse was electrified about 1929. The Grosse Ile light was an occulting white light, flashing one second on and one second off. The last lighthouse keeper left Grosse Ile in 1932 when the Coast Guard in Wyandotte took charge of more than 50 lights, buoys, and river markers in their jurisdiction. The light was turned off forever in the late 1940’s, and the huge light projecting lens in the lighthouse was removed by the Coast Guard.
While many other lighthouses were torn down after being decommissioned, the Grosse Ile Lighthouse fortunately was saved from the wrecking ball. In 1965, Grosse Ile Township purchased the lighthouse from the U. S. Department of Interior for $350 with funds provided by the Grosse Ile Historical Society. From that point on, the lighthouse has been the responsibility of the Historical Society which, with the help of nearby home owners and community members, has been able to maintain and preserve it.