Seul Choix Light

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Seul Choix Light
Seul Choix-Light.jpg
The light in 2006
Seul Choix Light is located in Michigan
Seul Choix Light
Location Schoolcraft County, Michigan
Coordinates 45°55′17″N 85°54′43″W / 45.92139°N 85.91194°W / 45.92139; -85.91194Coordinates: 45°55′17″N 85°54′43″W / 45.92139°N 85.91194°W / 45.92139; -85.91194
Year first lit 1892
Automated 1972
Foundation Ashlar stone[1]
Construction Brick, Italianate bracketing
Tower shape Frustum of a cone, attached keeper's house
Markings / pattern White orig./White/black markings/red roofs
Height 77 feet (23 m)[2]
Focal height 80 feet (24 m)[3]
Original lens Third order Fresnel lens
Current lens Vega Industries Marine LED Beacon
Range 16 nautical miles (30 km; 18 mi)[4]
Characteristic white flash every 6 seconds
Fog signal Diaphone (not active, on display)
ARLHS number USA-749[5][6]
USCG number


Seul Choix Pointe Light Station
U.S. Coast Guard photo c1915
Nearest city Manistique, Michigan
Area 2 acres (0.81 ha)
Architect Orlando M. Poe
Architectural style Italianate bracketing
MPS USCG Lighthouses and Light Stations on the Great Lakes TR
NRHP reference # 84001846[8]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 19, 1984
Designated MSHS August 21, 1987
Heritage place listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata

The Seul Choix Light is a lighthouse located in the northwest corner of Lake Michigan in Schoolcraft County, Michigan. The station was established in 1892 with a temporary light,[9] and this light started service in 1895, and was fully automated in 1972. It is an active aid to navigation.[4] There is now a museum at the light and both the building and the grounds are open for visitors from Memorial Day until the middle of October.[10]


This location is the only harbor of refuge along a treacherous stretch of coast. Its French name is "only choice", suggesting that it was used as a refuge by the early French traders in this area. Local references[11] state that the correct pronunciation is "Sis-shwa", assumed to be the common name used by both the French Voyageurs and the Native Americans with whom they traded.

In the 1880s, there was increased maritime traffic between the harbors on Lake Michigan's western shore and Green Bay on the one hand, and the Straits of Mackinac on the other. Although the St. Helena Island Light marked the western entry into the Straits, and Poverty Island Light lighted the entrance to the Bays de Noc, there were no lighthouses to aid mariners navigating a dark 100-mile (160 km) stretch of coastline on the southern shore of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The navigation season along this shoreline often began and ended with treacherous storms. Waves would build as they traversed the lake, making shelter a matter of life and death. Thus, mariners would seek shelter on the leeward side of points protruding into the lake along this stretch of unlighted shore.

The United States Lighthouse Board sought to mark the sheltering harbor, and provide a visual waypoint between the two existing lights. After considerable investigation and delay, the result was the building of this lighthouse. It also included a separate fog horn building, and a life saving station.[10] Although it was built two decades later, the design of this light is similar to the Au Sable Light which was designed by Orlando M. Poe,[7] which also resembles the Grosse Point Light The building is designed in Italianate architecture.[12]

The original optic was a fixed third-order Henry-LePaute Fresnel lens /frˈnɛl/. After its removal in 1973, it was housed in the Steamship Valley Camp Museum in Sault Ste. Marie, but is now in a private collection according to a sign in the keeper's dwelling.[13]

When the light was automated, the original lens was removed and an aerobeacon was emplaced[14]

The light was replaced with a DCB-224 aero beacon[10] manufactured by the Carlisle & Finch Company.[15] In this configuration, its characteristic is a white flash every six seconds, which is visible for a distance of 17 nautical miles (31 km; 20 mi) in clear weather conditions, like the original lens. In 1973, the Coast Guard closed the station, and left the automated light unmanned.[10] Putting aside questions of nostalgia, aesthetics, or appreciation for the engineering of a bygone era (as exemplified by the Fresnel lens), this iteration of lighthouse illumination is itself incredibly effective, and an endangered remnant of another bygone era.[16]

The site includes two brick oil houses, a workshop, barn, cistern in lighthouse keeper's house, converted boathouse (now a garage), a second keepers house, two outhouses, and a dock.[17]

On July 19, 1984, the site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Reference #84001846 as Seul Choix Pointe Light Station (U.S. Coast Guard/Great Lakes TR).[18] In 1987 it was also listed on the state registry.[13]

Current status[edit]

View of the current beacon taken from the lantern room July 2015

The lighthouse is operated by the Gulliver Historical Society, in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.[19]

It is open to the public and tours are available (including climbing the tower), which is "relatively rare for an active aid to navigation."[20] On display are the fog signal and a very old dugout canoe which was found on site. There are also "unique copper moldings around some of the interior door frames... a [rare] decorative touch... in lighthouse dwellings."[21]

The lighthouse is in the end stage its historical restoration, being performed by National Restoration, Inc.

Grounds are open year-round, and the light and museum is open from Memorial Day until October 15.

It is also said to be haunted by the old lightkeeper, Joeseph William Townshed.[citation needed]


The light is located in a Michigan State Park near Gulliver, Michigan, about 11 miles (18 km) east of Manistique.

Popular culture[edit]

The light has been the subject of drawings and needlepoint illustrations.[22][23]

Folk singer Carl Behrend recorded an album entitled The Ballad of Seul Choix Lighthouse.[24]


  1. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Michigan". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.  Seul Choix Pointe Light.
  2. ^ Pepper, Terry. "Database of Tower Heights". Seeing the Light. 
  3. ^ Pepper, Terry. "Database of Focal Heights". Seeing the Light. 
  4. ^ a b c Light List, Volume VII, Great Lakes (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. p. 212. 
  5. ^ Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society, Seul Choix Pointe (Lake Michigan) Light ARLHS USA-749.
  6. ^ Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society World List of Lights (WLOL)
  7. ^ a b Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  8. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  9. ^ Roach, Jerry, Lighthouse Central, Photos of the Seul Choix Light, The Ultimate Guide to Upper Michigan Lighthouses (Publisher: Bugs Publishing LLC - 2007). ISBN 978-0-9747977-2-4.
  10. ^ a b c d Terry Pepper, Seeing the Light, a full history of this light.
  11. ^ Gulliver County Historical Society, Seul Choix Point, visitation data and travel directions
  12. ^ "Grosse Point Light". Maritime Heritage Program, Inventory of Historic Lights. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  13. ^ a b Anderson, Kraig, Lighthouse Friends, Seul Choix Light.
  14. ^ Roberts, Bruce; Jones, Ray. (September 2002) American Lighthouses, 2nd: A Definitive Guide p. 270 Publisher: Globe Pequot Press 304 pp ISBN 1-59223-102-0; ISBN 978-1-59223-102-7; ISBN 978-0-7627-2269-3.
  15. ^ Carlisle & Finch Company.
  16. ^ Trapani, Bob, DCB-36 Beacon... Fading Away and All but Forgotten by History,
  17. ^ Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy, Seul Choix Light.
  18. ^ National Park Service Inventory of Historic Lights, Maritime Heritage Project, Seul Choix Pointe Light.
  19. ^ Seul Choix Point Light and Museum, home page.
  20. ^ Interactive map on Michigan lighthouses. Detroit News
  21. ^ Wobser, David; Woodward, James; and Shook, Jeff, Seul Choix Light,
  22. ^ Mulgrew, Marilyn, Drawing of Seul Choix Light. {Dead link|date=September 2009} Archived 2007-08-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Needlepoint of Seul Choix Light.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Carl Behrend. The Ballad of Seul Choix Lighthouse. ISBN 0-9728212-5-2.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]