Martin Reef Light Station

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Martin Reef Light Station
Martin Reef Light Station (Mackinac County, Michigan).jpg
Martin Reef Light Station is located in Michigan
Martin Reef Light Station
Location N Lake Huron, 4.3 miles (6.9 km) S of Cadogan Point
Coordinates 45°54′48″N 84°8′54″W / 45.91333°N 84.14833°W / 45.91333; -84.14833Coordinates: 45°54′48″N 84°8′54″W / 45.91333°N 84.14833°W / 45.91333; -84.14833
Year first lit 1927[1]
Deactivated N/A
Foundation crib[1]
Construction reinforced concrete & steel[1]
Tower shape square[1]
Markings / pattern white with red roof[1]
Height 52 feet (16 m)[2]
Focal height 65 feet (20 m)[2]
Original lens fourth order Fresnel lens[3]
Current lens 7.9-inch (200 mm) acrylic lens[3]
Range 13 nautical miles (24 km; 15 mi)[4]
Characteristic FI R 10s[4]
ARLHS number USA-480[5]
USCG number


Martin Reef Light Station
Nearest city Clark Township, Michigan
Area less than one acre
Architect US Lighthouse Service
MPS Light Stations of the United States MPS
NRHP Reference # 05000743[6]
Added to NRHP July 27, 2005
Heritage place listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata

The Martin Reef Light Station is a lighthouse located in northern Lake Huron, 4.3 miles (6.9 km) south of Cadogan Point in Clark Township, Michigan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.[6]


At the end of the 19th century, the availability of iron ore from the Upper Peninsula caused shipping traffic through the Great Lakes to increase tremendously.[3] Martin Reef, only a few inches deep in its shallowest area, was a significant hazard for ships approaching the Straits of Mackinac. In 1896, the Lighthouse Board asked for funds to be allocated to construct a lightship to station at the reef. However, despite repeated requests, it was not until 1906 that Congress approved the request.[3] Plans were drawn up to construct a lightship designated LV89. In 1907, the Racine-Truscott-Shell Boat building Company of Muskegon, Michigan was awarded a contract to build the steel-hulled vessel. The vessel was completed in 1908, but was not stationed on the reef until the beginning of the 1909 shipping season.[3]

However, over the next few decades, ships in the Great Lakes became larger and larger, and extended the shipping season past the times that LC89 was able to stay on station due to winter ice.[3] In the 1920s, the Lighthouse Service began designing a permanent structure to replace the lightship on Martin Reef, and soon funds were allocated for construction. Work was started in the summer of 1927,[7] and once the pier structure was complete, a temporary light was rigged and LV89 was removed and stationed at North Manitou Shoal in Lake Michigan. The entire project was completed in the summer of 1927.[3]

In 1939, the Coast Guard assumed responsibility for the nation's lighthouses.[3] They installed electric generators at Martin Reef to power the light. At some point, the station was automated, and the original Fresnel lens was removed and replaced with a 7.9-inch (200 mm) acrylic optic. The original lens is on display at the museum at the Point Iroquois Light. In 2000, the ownership of the light station was turned over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[3]


The Martin Reef Lighthouse sits on a 65 feet (20 m) square concrete-filled crib, placed in 10 feet (3.0 m) at the southeast edge of the reef.[3] The crib is the base for a pier containing cellar storage areas for coal and water.[3] Additional concrete forms an external "wave flare" around the pier, and the resulting pier structure is approximately 25 feet (7.6 m) high from its base.[7] The lighthouse itself is a 25 feet (7.6 m) square, white, three-story structure made of a skeletal steel frame covered with reinforced concrete and iron[3] and sheathed with steel.[7] The lighthouse is centered on the crib. The first floor of the lighthouse was designed as an engine room, the second floor as an office, kitchen, and living area, while the third floor contained sleeping rooms.[3]

A 16 feet (4.9 m) square, 10 feet (3.0 m) watchroom sits on the top of the lighthouse, topped with an octagonal cast iron lantern[3] with a red roof.[7] The lantern originally contained a flashing white fourth order Fresnel lens manufactured by Sautter & Cie of Paris. It currently contains a 200 mm acrylic lens. The lighthouse also contained compressed air diaphone fog signal.[3] The Poe Reef Light, built in 1929, is a duplicate of this lighthouse.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Historic Light Station Information & Photography: Michigan". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved June 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Inventory of Historic Light Stations Michigan Lighthouses: Martin Reef". National Park Service. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Martin Reef Lighthouse". Seeing The Light. Retrieved June 9, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Light List: Volume VII: Great Lakes (PDF), United States Coast Guard, 2012, p. 117 
  5. ^ "Martin Reef (Lake Huron) Light: ARLHS USA-480". Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society. Retrieved June 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Martin Reef, Les Cheneaux Islands, MI". Midwest Connection, l.l.c. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ Dave Wobser; Colt Edin. "Martin Reef Light". Retrieved June 10, 2012.