The port of Harbor Beach is the world’s largest man-made freshwater harbor. The Army Corps of Engineers built the harbor and its made-from-a-kit lighthouse between 1873 and 1885 to provide refuge for Great Lakes freighters and passenger vessels on Lake Huron. In the early 1900s, the original wooden cribs filled with field stones were strengthened by adding concrete caps, and the ACE later added boulders to protect the concrete structures from wave damage during dramatic Big Lake storms.
The lighthouse is accessible only by boat. For many decades it was staffed by a lighthouse keeper and his assistant. The lighthouse and its fog horn are now fully automated and the structures have been restored to their condition around 1900.
A local nonprofit group hosts lighthouse tours on summer weekends. We were told that tickets were sold out for our day in Harbor Beach, but I asked the volunteers to let us know if anything opened up. About an hour later, we received a call that if we got to the shuttle boat in five minutes we could use the tickets of a foursome who had purchased tickets but were unable to come that day. So we did!
The volunteer docents were very knowledgeable. Many have lived in the community their entire lives and have been volunteer docents for years.
The lighthouse tour was a highlight of our time in Harbor Beach!