In the 1860s a ship sank after hitting a shallow reef near the tip of Mission Bay Peninsula. The event prompted Congress to finance construction of a lighthouse, which was lit in September 1870. The Mission Point Lighthouse served as a beacon for passing ships until 1933, when an automated buoy light was installed offshore. Today you can tour the building, climb up to the tower and explore the area around it.
The scenic drive to the lighthouse up Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City, Michigan, will take you alongside the waters of the Grand Traverse Bay before swinging west and then up through the center of the peninsula, passing cherry orchards and vineyards. (You may want to allow time to stop at a couple of the eight wineries on the peninsula.)
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As you approach the lighthouse, note the sign stating that you are standing on the 45th parallel, exactly midway between the North Pole and the Equator.
We didn’t get to tour the inside of the lighthouse because it was closed when we got there. However, we were able to get some lovely photos of the outside. The building has been beautifully restored and is listed on the National and State Historic Records.
Nearby, the Hessler Log home, moved to the site from its original location on the southern part of Old Mission Peninsula, is open to tour when the lighthouse is open. The building, typical of those built by early pioneers, was completed in 1856 and was home to the original owners, Joseph and Mary Hessler, for ten years.
Plan to spend time hiking while you’re there. The five acres of township property that surround the lighthouse and hundreds of acres of state property in the area have miles of hiking trails through forest and along beaches.
Mission Point Lighthouse, located at 20500 Center Road on Old Mission Peninsula, is usually open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily May through October, and Friday through Sunday in April, November and December. You may want to call ahead of time to verify the buildings are open for tours. Check the web site for contact and admission information.
Disclosure: My visit to Traverse City was hosted by Traverse City Tourism. However, any opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine.
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