Grand Marais Lighthouse

Grand Marais Lighthouse

One of the most iconic landmarks in the town of Grand Marais is the Grand Marais Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits at the end of the Grand Marais breakwall at the entrance to the harbor, and has been a popular destination for many visitors in the area.

The Grand Marais Lighthouse was constructed due to two piers being installed near the entrance to the harbor in 1884. These new piers required a light and fog signal to guide mariners through the opening, so congress allotted about $9,500 for a set to be installed. Charles E.L.B. David, the Eleventh District Engineer Captain, created the construction plan that used surplus parts in order to reduce building costs. The lighthouse was erected in 1885 on the east end of the harbor entrance. Joseph E. Mayhew became the first lighthouse keeper in 1886. A keeper’s dwelling was later built in 1896.

In 1901, a second, smaller light structure was added to the west end of the harbor using a cast iron post with a small area for oil storage. This was later re-built in 1904 due to ice interfering with the hoisting gear. Both lights have required major repairs, especially the light on the east pier, after sustaining damage from waves and storms throughout the years. Various lighting systems were also used over the years until they were both automated in 1937, at which time a lighthouse keeper was no longer needed.

The Cook County Historical Society manages the lighthouse today. The keeper’s dwelling at 8 Broadway still stands today near the lighthouse and is currently being operated as a museum. The museum is open to the public during the summer months.