|Point Betsie photos
courtesy of Jon
Web Site © Copyright
2002-2013 by The
Friends of Point
and ATI Consulting
All rights reserved.
• About the
Point Betsie Lighthouse •
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
See our Hours, Tours, and Events page.
See our Map page
for the location and directions to Point Betsie.
- 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 -
Photographs of the Point Betsie lighthouse and life-saving station
spanning several decades and many different perspectives.
Key Point Betsie
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.