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Point Betsie Lighthouse

December 30, 2012 by  

Point Betsie Lighthouse, Point Betsie Light is located on the northeast shore of Lake Michigan – at the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage – north of Frankfort in Benzie County in Northern Michigan. Construction began in 1854, but it was not completed until 1858, and began service in the shipping season of 1859. The lighthouse cost $5000 to build. In 1875, a life saving station was built for $3000.

The light was originally equipped with a Fourth Order Fresnel lens (pronounced /fre???ˆn?›l/) with bullseye, which was upgraded to a Third order (with bullseye) in 1880. The latter was visible for 27.5 miles (44.3 km), because of the high placement of the tower (focal plane of 52.5 feet) and the efficacy of the lens design. The Fresnel Lens was removed in 1996, and there are plans to display it at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The cylindrical tower is 39 feet (12 m) tall, but sits on a dune. It is attached to the Lighthouse keepers house, which was upgraded to an attractive gambrel roof design.

This was one of the earliest Life Saving Station, and was run under the auspices of the U.S. Life-Saving Service. In 1910 the United States Lighthouse Board was reconstituted as the U.S. Lighthouse Service. In 1939 these agencies were merged under the control of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Prior to being automated in 1983, the ‘wickies’ operated the light for 106 years. This was the last manned lighthouse on Lake Michigan and the last Michigan lighthouse to lose its keeper. The light is now a Vega VRB-25 system. The new optic would be visible for a range of 15 to 22 miles (35 km), depending on the bulb used.

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