Up until now, the only photos that could be found of Michigan’s lost Upper St. Mary’s River Round Island Lighthouse were images of a pile of rubble. No known photos seem to exist of the lighthouse when it was operational, and no known photos of the lighthouse were thought to exist when it was still standing in ruin.
However, Neil Campbell, who owns a cabin within sight of Round Island, recently proved part of that statement wrong when he sent us an image of the of the lighthouse ruins before it totally collapsed.
According to Larry and Patricia Wright in their book Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia, Round Island is about six miles southeast of Gros Cap Reef, halfway between Birch Point to the west and Cedar Point to the east, and about a half a mile off Michigan’s shore in the Upper St. Mary’s River.
Established in 1855, the lighthouse was reconstructed in 1864 and again in 1870 but it was discontinued in May of 1887. At that time, its 5th order lens and perhaps its lantern were removed and brought to the Lighthouse Depot in Detroit to be used elsewhere. By the early 1900s, the lighthouse was in ruins and it eventually collapsed into a pile of rubble.
The lighthouse is not to be confused with two other lighthouses in Michigan that have the same name: the Round Island Lighthouse in the Straits of Mackinac, and the now privately owned Round Island Lighthouse on the St. Mary’s River near Raber, Michigan.
This story appeared in the
Mar/Apr 2018 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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