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Friends of Point
Betsie Lighthouse
P.O. Box 601
Frankfort, MI
49635-0601
231-352-7644
Email Us

Gift Shop
231-352-7666

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A grateful THANKS
to
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for hosting this site and other Internet services.

Point Betsie photos
courtesy of Jon
Hawley.

Web Site © Copyright
2002-2013 by The
Friends of Point
Betsie Lighthouse

and
ATI Consulting

All rights reserved.

The Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse

• About the Point Betsie Lighthouse •
Point Betsie Lighthouse and Fog Signal Building


GENERAL

Point Betsie Lighthouse, Benzie County’s most famous landmark, is located on the Lake Michigan shore just south of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and about five miles north of Frankfort, Michigan. Point Betsie is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States, and likely the most visited attraction in Benzie County.

HOURS of OPERATION, TOURS, and SPECIAL EVENTS

See our Hours, Tours, and Events page.

LOCATION

See our Map page for the location and directions to Point Betsie.

DETAILS

  • Point Betsie marks the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage.
  • Indians named the Betsie River for the Sawbill or Merganser duck which was prevalent in the area. That identification was continued by the early French explorers, who used “Aux Bec Scies,” of comparable meaning, as the name of the river as well as the nearby point.
  • The lighthouse was built in 1857-58 and its light was first lit on October 20, 1858. It has continued to serve Lake Michigan mariners for 153 years.
  • The U.S. Lifesaving Service station was built in 1876 and replaced by U.S. Coast Guard in 1917, closing in 1937.
  • The light sits 52 feet above the lake and has a range of about 15 miles.
  • Both the original lens and its 1891 replacement were of the fourth-order Fresnel (Fre’-nel) design.
  • The lighthouse and rescue stations had many keepers throughout their history.
  • The current light system features a modern acrylic lens from New Zealand.
  • National Register Status: LISTED; Reference #84001375. (See National Register of Historical Places - Benzie County)

PHOTO GALLERIES

Photographs of the Point Betsie lighthouse and life-saving station spanning several decades and many different perspectives.

THE HISTORY

Key Point Betsie Personnel

A Summary Chronology

THE PRESENT and THE FUTURE

The Friends organization and Benzie County are grateful of the support of the State of Michigan’s Lighthouse Assistance Program, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, the Frankfort Rotary Club’s Centennial Project, the Federal Government’s distinguished “Save America’s Treasures” program and The Nature Conservancy, as well as the contributions of thousands of individual donors whose funds have made possible Point Betsie Light Station’s rehabilitation.

All the historic structures have now been rehabilitated and are in use. While we are very proud of what’s been accomplished in a very short period of time, we are not done! In 2012, we plan to completely re-surface the driveway and limited inside-the-gate parking spaces needed by some of our volunteers and disabled visitors. The driveway work will also facilitate the display, temporarily, of our recently acquired and restored wooden boat.

We also intend to strengthen our association with local schools, an initiative which got off to a wonderful start with a Christmas season program at the lighthouse for Frankfort-Elberta third grade students and their teachers.

A major construction project is in our sights, awaiting funding. This structure would replace the current but non-historic garage which presently serves as our gift shop. It would house a better gift shop, bathrooms for our visitors, and a display area for the boat and other large artifacts that require protection from adverse weather.